Draft liquor act amendmend bill

Liquor Amendment Bill Summary

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The draft Liquor Amendment Bill (which will become the Liquor Amendment Act, 2016 should it go through) was published on 30 September 2016 with a 30-day window for comments from the public.

It’s worth reading – here’s the 24-page draft amendment (pdf, 446kb, hosted on gov.za). You may as well have it open, side-by-side, next to the actual Act it seeks to amend, the 26-page No. 59 of 2003: Liquor Act, 2003 (pdf, 352kb, hosted at saps.gov.za).

You might be interested in a summary of the Western Cape Alcohol Harms Reduction Policy Green Paper, currently also in the public comment phase.

If scanning acts and amendments is not your pint of ale, then continue for my humble, summary to get the gist.


In a Nutshell

The amendment will:

  • place new restriction on the advertising of liquor;
  • restrict trading days & hours;
  • raise the minimum drinking age to 21;
  • provide additional conditions to obtain licenses;
  • restrict trading within certain areas;
  • give Liquor Inspector Powers to officers from other departments;
  • reposition the National Liquor Authority as the regulator;
  • establish an internal committee as a review mechanism;
  • issue BBBEE compliance, and guidelines for combatting socio-economic harms;
  • provide new offences;


After this bill comes into effect, alcohol can’t be advertised in a manner that appeals to, or attract people under the age of 21, or misrepresent the age of people featured in the advert.

Alcohol can’t be advertised on a billboard that’s within 100m of traffic corners, junctions or circles, via distributed pamphlets, or on radio & TV outside times set by the Minister.

Alcohol ads must advertise the harmful effects of alcohol.

Contravening any of these prescriptions is an offence.

The New Legal Drinking Age

It won’t be allowed to sell alcohol to anyone under 21 years old. It will also be illegal to lie about your age, or that of another person, in order to obtain alcohol, and the seller must make a reasonable effort to establish the alcohol consumer’s age.

However, a parent or guardian of such a person, or “a person responsible for administering a religious sacrament” (hello, Dominee), will be allowed to, on occasion, supply a person under 21 years old with “a moderate quantity of liquor” to consume under adult supervision.

Contravening any of these prescriptions is an offence.

Licensing Issues

Liquor Licenses will not be issued for premises at petrol stations, or near public transport facilities.

Alcohol can’t be made, distributed or retailed within 500m of a school, place of worship, recreational facility, rehab or treatment centres, residential areas, public institutions or “other like amenities”.

If a premises is already registered, registrants shall comply with norms and standards imposed, from time to time, by the National Liquor Policy Council.

Contravening any of these prescriptions will attract a penalty, suspension of license, or both.

Several pages deal with wording that adds powers to revoke licenses under certain circumstances, and set windows for appeal.

Liquor Inspector Powers

The following officers from other government departments will also be granted with liquor inspector powers, ostensibly to make policing more effective. Police officers, customs & excise officers, traffic police, food, cosmetics & disinfectant inspectors, peace officers, dept. of agriculture & fisheries inspectors, health inspectors or anybody “designated by the Minister upon request”, will have these powers bestowed upon them.

There is a clause, however, that says such persons must satisfy education, training, experience OR competency requirements prescribed by the National Liquor Regulator.

Internal Review Mechanism & Offenses

Page 17 deals with the “internal review mechanism” consisting of a 3 member committee, whom can be appealed to when the Minister’s decision, or a decision by an inspector, is unacceptable. It also allows for turning to the judicial system should the committee’s decision also not be favourable.

The amendments now explicitly make it an offence to manufacture, own, sell or distribute counterfeit liquor. Also added to the offenses list are supplying or distributing to an unlicensed person, and BBBEE fronting.

Additionally, if you’re caught supplying an unlicensed person or establishment, you will be “jointly and severely liable for” pretty much anything bad that can be connected to said liquor, whether caused by the unlicensed person or the people who consumed the alcohol through that person.

The last few pages deal with the powers and responsbilities bestowed upon the newly created National Liquor Regulator. It also touches on amending operational hours, and a provision to implement fees as and when, without being specific about numbers.

The amendment bill was published on 30 September, so the 30 days comment window closes on 28 October. I strongly suggest that you read the actual amendmend document, in case I glossed over something gravely important.

Submit your comments to Ms. Nkoe Rhamphele via email at NRamphele@thedti.gov.za, or snailmail at Director General, DTI, Private Bag x84, Pretoria, 0001. You could also call 012 394 5573. Alas, that number is probably not WhatsApp’able.

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