No Country for Plastic Wine and its Low-life Boozers

Thursday, 11 July, 2019
During a recent road-trip through the majestic open spaces of the South African Karoo, I was once again exposed to the fact that as a nation we have an alcohol problem that needs dealing with...

It was Friday afternoon, and from the town of Laingsburg through Beaufort-West and onto the quaint historical hamlet of Richmond in the Karoo’s icy heart, a fair amount of drinking was being done – or had been committed – by the time I hit town.

Take note: this pastoral sketch did not show cheerful folk relaxing after a week’s toil, calmly sipping cool draught beers or chilled glasses of Sauvignon Blanc at roadside cafés. Instead, the local work-force were knocking-off. All drinking wine from plastic bottles with red-caps. Standing outside liquor stores as they stupefied themselves with Cape wine that somebody was selling to them for around R22 a litre. Ill-nourished, snot-nosed infants were tugging at their mothers’ frayed skirts, requesting attention of some sorts while the moms glugged thirstily at the plastic wine containers before passing the booze on to their male partners for finishing. Cents were counted and then it was back into the liquor store for a refill of vino.

Two young farm-workers in overalls sat next to the biltong store on Laingsburg main road, a plastic bag filled with plastic wine containers between them and each with a bottle in his hand. When I politely declined their slurred request to donate them some money, I was instructed to commit vigorous fellatio on myself, before them commenting on the condition of a female relative’s private parts.

Similar scenes played out in Beaufort-West and Richmond, and one can pretty well assume that this mass drunkenness resulting from the imbibing of cheap wine was the cause. And it has been the case in the rural – and urban – communities of South Africa for as long as I can remember. Most of us are aware of this, as well as the social ills it causes. Foetal alcohol syndrome, crime, ripped social fabric, domestic violence, child prostitution….slices of real South African life wherein alcohol plays a role and not showing any sign of abating.

Read the full article here.

Papsak, a word so popular it's been added to the Oxford dictionary - Ed.
Papsak, a word so popular it's been added to the Oxford dictionary - Ed.

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