The South African alcohol industry has stepped up its efforts to assist in curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in recently identified hot spots in the Eastern Cape province, by committing to purchasing or sponsoring medical supplies worth R30m.
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“The industry had engaged with the provincial government to reach agreement on distribution, logistics, and project management support for the initiative. The Department of Health had identified the Eastern Cape as a hot spot, and the premier reached out to our associates requesting assistance," said Lucky Ntimane, convener: Liquor Traders Formations.
Broad-based industry partnership
Ntimane stressed that the industry would play its part in stemming the tide against the spread of Covid-19 in the liquor trade and in the communities in which it operated and would continue to advocate for responsible consumption.
Sean Robinson, president of the Liquor Traders Association of South Africa (LTASA), said, “We are calling on traders to act responsibly. But, at the same time, we must point out that the overwhelming majority of traders are doing their best to adhere to the Covid-19 trading conditions and will continue to do their part.”
Ntimane explained that this was a broad-based industry partnership, and included support from Distell, SAB/ABI, Heineken, Pernod Ricard, Diageo, Salba and Consol. “The industry has been monitoring the situation. We were concerned about the rise in the number of Covid-19 positive cases and coronavirus-related deaths in the province. We convened as a matter of urgency to see how we could further support the efforts and relieve the pressure on the health system,” he said.
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2 months’ worth of supplies and support
He stated that the project provided two-months’ worth of PPE supplies and support to frontline workers in the government hospitals and had targeted the 24 hardest-hit hospitals in the largest hotspot regions.
“We thought that the best approach would be to assist the Eastern Cape Department of Health (DOH) as we had heard of several statements around the shortage of medical equipment in the province,” he said.
The relief effort targeted the OR Tambo District and Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Region and the bulk of the supplies were being delivered in November to Port Elizabeth and the DOH warehouse in Mthatha. The supplies included locally manufactured medical-grade FFP2 masks as well as surgical and general-use gloves.
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This initiative is one of several from the alcohol industry. Others include Distell’s Tavern Dialogues, a project to tackle gender-based violence and femicide (GBVF), which was also rolled out in the Eastern Cape in mid-November.
Another is the Distell and Heineken Community Patrolling Programme, run in partnership with Memeza. This also has several objectives, primarily around the empowerment and mobilisation of Community Policing Forums (CPF) and developing community-based ICT to improve SAPS, CPF and Neighbourhood Watch service delivery.
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“The South African liquor industry is committed to working with all stakeholders and the dedicated teams on the ground to help manage the impact of Covid-19 on our communities,” said Ntimane. “We call on traders to continue to adhere strictly to all safety health protocols and social distancing measures.”
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