Nanny State goes mad!

A few weeks ago, we brought you news of Cape Town’s new and stupid liquor bylaws. We’re still waiting for some sort of rational explanation as to how those make sense, but there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon in that a public participation process seems to be being set up to discuss “possible amendments” to the bylaw (which, don’t forget, is already in force and will continue to be during these potential discussions).

But, my friends, no sooner is there light at the end of that tunnel, then we leap salmon-like from frying pan to fire. Because the Nanny State – so often negatively associated with the UK – is still here and it’s alive and well, having set up a summer holiday home in Camps Bay. OH, AND ANOTHER ONE IN OUDTSHOORN WHERE IT HAS ONLY GONE AND REGULATED OSTRICH RIDING!


I know, right? Unbelievable.

Once common, traditional practices like having 200 bottles of wine on your premises, buying Milk Stout at 6:01pm and riding ostriches without a permit – let alone all three – will sadly die out under these new draconian laws and all we’ll have left to show for them are happy memories, a slight hangover and some peck marks.

Yes, try riding a big bird these days without the appropriate permits and Papa wag vir jou. And by Papa, I mean the Performing Animals Protection Act, the one that even the NSPCA admits “may be misleadingly named”:

It specifically regulates “the exhibition and training” of animals and states that anyone intending to do so must be the holder of a licence in terms of that Act.

How utterly ridiculous.
Fortunately, they then go on to assure us that:

The application process is straightforward and forms can be obtained from [email protected].

God alone knows what animalethics1, 2 and 3 were about. Probably remembering to polish your tortoise or something.

Anyway, I’m going apply for my ostrich riding permit straight away. I don’t actually have any ostriches to ride, but I can only imagine that come the day I get one, I’m not going to want to hang around for three months waiting for some jobsworth somewhere up in Pretoria to stamp a few forms so that I can ride it legally.
What I get up to in the privacy of my own back garden is my business, anyway. It’s not like I’m planning to ride it to work or anything. This is purely a leisure activity.

Please. If you, like me, have ever ridden an ostrich, you’ll appreciate the tight bond twixt bird and jockey, a bond that shouldn’t be sullied and cheapened by paperwork and misleadingly named paternal legalities. Sadly, this is merely another unnecessary intrusion into our daily lives by the powers that be; powers that are already overworked and failing to enforce the rules and regulations already imposed upon us.

I’m not calling for protests or a campaign of civil disobedience here. I would hate you to be brought to book because you decided to unlawfully ride your ostrich on my account.
Just please, no more silly laws about beer and wine and ostriches, complicating people’s lives simply for the sake of it.

P.S. Don’t forget to polish your tortoise this evening, lest the NSPCA come a calling.

Own goal

If this interpretation of the new Cape Town Liquor By-law is accurate – and there’s no suggestion that it isn’t – then it’s an absolutely massive own goal by our supposedly liberal DA city council.

  • No alcohol can be sold for off-consumption on Sundays, except for wineries.
  • No alcohol can be sold for off-consumption after 6pm on weekdays.
  • No sale of more than 150 litres of alcohol to any one person unless they have a liquor licence or special permission from the Chairman of the Liquor Board.
  • No-one may keep more than 150 litres of wine in their home without a liquor licence.
  • No drinking alcohol in vehicles.
  • No drinking at school functions ever. This applies even if the function is held away from school grounds and on a licenced premises.

For starters, I do agree with the no drinking in vehicles and the school function thing makes some degree of sense on a basic level. But that’s where my support for this ends.

There’s absolutely no question that Cape Town – as with the rest of South Africa – has a huge problem with alcohol. But I fail to see how this new bylaw will help to solve that. Illegal shebeens currently operate with impunity across the city; why will this bylaw prevent them from continuing to do so, with such limited enforcement of the laws that already exist?

The nod to Sundays as being somehow special is backward and unnecessary. Again, exactly how that assists with reducing alcohol abuse is beyond me. Or are we planning on baby steps here – to reduce problem drinking by 1/7th? Is that enough?

And then the whole 150 litres issues. No buying for big parties and even if you could, no taking it home. No wine collections of over 200 bottles – if you have one, you will be breaking the law in a couple of weeks. Are they really going to do dawn raids on posh houses that they suspect may have a wine cellar? It’s pathetic.

And this is just on off sales. The implications for restaurants and bars – and with them, Cape Town’s vital tourist industry – are even more worrying.

I have nothing but contempt for these new regulations. They are short sighted and unhelpful and they risk alienating a huge proportion of the voting public. Without proper enforcement, any law is useless anyway and as we’ve point out with the traffic, there really is no enforcement of our laws here. So what’s the point?

The one thing with our city council is that they do have a history of actually listening to public opinion, so maybe there is some hope that the outcry that this stupid bylaw generates will result in it being changed to something more sensible in the future.
But in the meantime, on the 1st April, we in Cape Town will be living in a beautiful, but backward city. And that’s very sad.