Cape Town gets tough on beach booze

Alcohol clampdown on Cape Town beaches.

Cape Town has begun its annual crackdown to curb drinking on the city's beaches, with police seizing almost 2,500 bottles of alcohol over a nine-day period in early December.

The number is nearly three times the amount of bottles confiscated during the same period last year. The move comes as Cape Town nears the peak of its summer season which coincides with the Christmas festivities.

The city has warned that the possession and consumption of alcohol on beach areas is illegal and that those caught breaking the law will receive a court summons and a R500 fine, as well as having their drinks confiscated.

The city has also credited its zero-tolerance alcohol policy with a significant drop in drownings and incidents of violent behaviour since the bylaw was introduced in 2012.

South Africa is the heaviest-drinking nation on the African continent, according to the Global Alcohol Report by the World Health Organization (WHO), with the highest number of heavy drinkers and binge drinkers found in the Western Cape.

More than 10 per cent of South Africa's males are classed as having "alcohol use disorders", in other words they are problem drinkers.

Some 25 per cent of South Africa's population aged over 15 are classified as heavy drinkers, meaning they reported at least one episode of binge drinking (in which they consume 60 grams of pure alcohol) during the past 30 days.

The government estimates that alcohol abuse and its associated social and health consequences, including employee absenteeism, costs the South African exchequer more than R300 billion annually.