South Africa: Cheap Wine Trending in Townships

Friday, 2 November, 2012
Mary-Anne Gontsana,
Cape Town - Papsak, wyn, umtshove alale, whichever way you choose to refer to it, cheap wine has become popular in our townships even though it might be dangerous to your health.
I recently attended a family gathering, umcimbi, in Gugulethu. All the usual faces were there: family, neighbours, friends, old men and women from the area. The yard was packed.

As I walked into "the room" in the house - there is always a room set-up for umcimbi - I came across the usual, a big drum of umqombothi (African beer), bottles of strong alcohol, and tobacco. Next to these, were two transparent 5-litre bottles containing a golden liquid. I had seen two of these bottles lying in the yard outside, empty.

These papsak wines are sold under names such as Hard Val or Cape's Best and cost about R30 at local shebeens. Papsakke or wine sold in foil bags, were banned in 2007 by the SA Wine Industry, but later cheap wine resurfaced in plastic containers.

This is the same wine that temporarily paralysed our family friend, Bra Jazz, a month ago, leaving him sitting in the dark outside, on the bench, unable to move no matter how much he wanted to. He would manage to stand up briefly only to fall down again. His whole body had entered a mild stroke-like state. He eventually recovered a few hours later.

Social Justice Coalition's campaign coordinator, Mandla Majola says, "Once a person drinks it, then that is it, it's over, that person has officially lost their lease on life. I live with people who drink umtshovi in the community (Guguletu) and they don't have a life. As parents they neglect their families and children. Their health deteriorates. They are dirty and they just stop caring about everything. In most cases you find that these people are talented and some of them dropped out of university. Umtshovi is the worst form of alcohol, one that instantly makes you lose your dignity," said Majola. read on


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