WATCH | Parents must step up: Call as street bash prompts booze ban proposal
Large crowds of unruly teenagers drinking in public in Nelson Mandela Bay have caused a big headache for police — with stun grenades necessary to break up a party at the weekend.
After two weekends of decadent partying in New Brighton and Zwide — in defiance of the coronavirus lockdown regulations — police and community members met on Monday to try to find a solution to the problem, reports HeraldLIVE.
The meeting took place at Embizweni Square in New Brighton, where a huge street party was held on Saturday night.
Videos showing the partying youngsters — some whom police say were as young as 15 — have gone viral.
The videos emerged as the Eastern Cape coronavirus command council said it wanted the national government to reinstate the ban on the sale of alcohol in the province.
In the videos, more than 100 youngsters can be seen drinking, dancing, hugging and kissing at the square. None of the revellers are wearing face masks.
Police said when they tried to break up the party, the teenagers retaliated, pelting police vehicles with stones.
New Brighton police station commander Col Vuyisiwe Tembani said public order policing units were then called in and the partygoers were dispersed with teargas and stun grenades.
Police also dispersed a crowd of people at an impromptu street bash in Zwide.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane confirmed on Monday that the provincial government was writing a formal letter to the national government, asking it to approve its request to ban the sale of alcohol in the Eastern Cape.
Mabuyane said the envisaged ban would last as long as the province had Covid-19 cases or until the country moved to lower lockdown levels.
He said since the ban on liquor sales had been lifted on June 1, there had been negative consequences, such as an increase in violent crimes and gender-based violence, which the provincial government could not ignore.
“Liquor is dangerous and we’ve observed serious abuse of alcohol since June 1, which is posing threats to the fight against Covid-19,” the premier said.
Mabuyane said there had been a noticeable increase in serious crime, as expected with the reopening of the liquor trade in the province and country.
Mabuyane said from June 1 to June 7 the following crimes had been recorded in the province:
• Homicide — 25 cases;
• Murder — 94 cases;
• Rape — 77 cases;
• Attempted murder — 42 cases;
• Assault with intent to commit grievous bodily harm — 354 cases;
• Drunk riving — 51 cases; and
• Driving under the influence of liquor where an accident occurred — 25 cases.
Mabuyane accused Eastern Cape residents of not consuming alcohol at home, which was required by the regulations under level 3 of the lockdown.
“Police in the province are already overwhelmed with ensuring social distancing and [ensuring] people are wearing masks on top of their daily duties,” he said.
The @DBE_SA opening schools but yet these kids were having fun yesterday night in P.E ,Zwide Kwa Lamani Garage..hugging and drinking alcohol..@CyrilRamaphosa why uthule my President??..i won't be surprised if all of them infected each other after this "festive" #schoolsreopening pic.twitter.com/IQ5k9dEgMJ— Simphiwe Dulwana (@Cmpra_Dee) June 7, 2020
Concerned liquor traders in the area said they distanced themselves from the weekend incidents.
Township Licensed Liquor Traders leader Lunga Magxaka said the local tavern owners were not part of the illegal gathering and strongly condemned the youngsters’ behaviour.
The Eastern Cape Liquor Board was also worried about the weekend’s events.
Spokesperson Mgwebi Msiya said the youngsters’ behaviour went against the government’s concerted efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
“We continue to urge people to drink responsibly and obey the regulations by consuming alcohol in their households.
“We strongly denounce the consumption of alcohol in groups as this contravenes social distancing requirements,” he said.
None of the revellers were arrested.