Alcohol Laws In South Africa To Change Soon

Alcohol Laws In South Africa To Change Soon

Alcohol laws in South Africa look set to change soon. This week, the Parliamentary Committee on Land and Mineral Resources accepted the Liquor Products Amendment Bill. We explain what that means for all the South African drinkers out there.

South African drinking age and other new alcohol laws

On Tuesday, the committee approved the Liquor Products Amendment Bill. This means the bill now just needs to be approved by the National Council of Provinces before landing up on President Ramaphosa’s desk to sign into law.

According to the committee chair, Olifile Sefako, the Bill seeks to amend the outdated Liquor Products Act of 1989 as well as “mistakes” in the Amendment Act of 2008.

The new bill will allow it to broaden its scope of regulation, in order to include beer, contemporary beer, traditional African beer and other fermented beverages.


A previous loophole had allowed for any product labelled “beer” to be manufactured and sold in the country without all the necessary checks and balances.

The Committee has raised its concerns about any attempt to regulate traditional African beer, but the approval still arrived after some debate.

Alcoholic drinks and alcohol percentages

The next major change in the bill is a reduction in the alcohol percentage in drinks not officially classified as liquor products. Currently, the minimum alcohol content allowed in beverages is 1.0%, the bill will amend this to just 0.5%.

The change is described as addressing the “proliferation and uncontrolled sale of sugar-fermented beverages and other concoctions”.

Juice and opening the market

The bill will also amend the definition of an alcoholic fruit beverage. Believe it or not, the use of concentrate or reconstituted juice is currently not allowed. “Alcohol fruit beverages” can only be made from the juice of fresh fruit.

That will be changing Limitations on specially authorised liquors like mead, sacramental alcoholic beverages, orange juice, and cane sugar fermented alcoholic beverages, will be rolled back. Currently, only producers that are historically qualified to produce these liquors are allowed to manufacture the products.

Government believes this is excluding new entrants as these additional limitations do not apply to other types of alcohol.

Drinking age in South Africa in 2018

While the above changes have been approved by Parliament, the drinking age moving from 18 to 21 has currently not been approved by anyone. This change features in a separate bill, the Liquor Amendment Bill.

While it was supposed to head Cabinet in March, the bill was not approved by the ministers. It’s not clear if it was even discussed.

The bill would have to be approved by cabinet before making its way to Parliament and the National Council of Provinces.

The move to change the drinking age has been criticised heavily and described as unrealistic and impossible to enforce.

So, while the other changes are definitely happening, don’t get too stressed out about any drinking age changes, kids. Not yet, anyway…

Credit: Nic Andersen, THE SOUTH AFRICAN

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