Pieter Boone, the CEO of Pick n Pay, has called for the liquor ban to be lifted by the government. South Africa moved to an adjusted level 4 lockdown at the end of June, with a complete prohibition on the sale of alcohol in place.
The alcohol industry has faced various forms of restrictions since South Africa introduced its first COVID-19 restrictions in March 2020.
Estimates show that the latest four-week ban has put 9,206 jobs in the alcohol industry at risk, with a potential loss of R10.2 billion in taxes and excise duties.
Commenting on progress in recovering from the social unrest and damage last week, Boone said:
“We updated stakeholders earlier this week on damage to Pick n Pay and Boxer stores and infrastructure as a result of last week’s social unrest and looting. In total, 136 of our food, grocery, clothing and building stores were looted and/or burned, along with 76 liquor stores, across KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Two Pick n Pay distribution centres in KZN were also severely damaged.
“Following up on my visit last week, I have spent yesterday and today on the ground in Gauteng and KZN, visiting our damaged stores, and meeting affected staff members, franchise partners and other stakeholders. The scale and the nature of the destruction is heart breaking. But I have been inspired by the progress made by our Pick n Pay and Boxer teams in the noble task of cleaning up, rebuilding, and restocking our stores – getting them ready to welcome customers again. The progress since I was here last week is massive. Every day, our teams are accelerating their progress and shortening their timescales.
“I said only two days ago that we would reopen 32 of our 136 looted or damaged stores by the end of this week. I am very pleased to be able to say that, by the end of next week, the total number of reopened stores will rise to 58 across Pick n Pay and Boxer.
“I have also visited the two Pick n Pay distribution centres in Pinetown, KZN, which were both looted and severely damaged. The progress in repairing and restocking both is remarkable, and we will soon have a fully restored supply chain network.
“I am seeing amazing progress in such a short time. My thanks go to my colleagues across Pick n Pay and Boxer, our franchise partners, and our vendors, equipment and other suppliers.
“Speaking to franchisees and independent traders in the affected areas, I firmly believe that it is time now for the President to announce a lifting of the ban on liquor sales. We have hopefully passed the peak of the Covid-19 third wave. In normal times, many independent shopkeepers depend on responsible liquor sales to sustain their businesses, and will not survive another prolonged ban. The social unrest, looting, and damage has dealt them a further body blow – as well as releasing a large amount of looted liquor into the illicit market. Lifting the ban will be widely welcomed across the country as a positive and responsible step forward in our recovery from the events of last week.
“We are working very hard in anticipation of this step. By the end of next week, we will have repaired and be ready to reopen 28 of our 76 severely damaged liquor stores in KZN and Gauteng.
“Last week I said that South Africa was bloodied but unbowed. This week, everywhere I have been, I have seen the strength and determination of people to rise from the crisis and build a better tomorrow.”