• What is the extent of the illegal organized cigarette trade in South Africa? How much money is lost annually to the South African economy as a result? We answer these and other important questions in an article published in Servamus: January 2021.

  • Servamus subscribers stand the chance of winning a BYRNA Less-lethal firearm (no need for permits). Turn to p21 of Servamus: January 2021 to find out what you need to do to win this awesome prize worth R7500!

  • COVID-19 has exacerbated the threat of crimes that are committed in the pharmaceutical industry, such as counterfeiting and fraud, as large consignments of counterfeit medical products have been distributed. Our article published from p24 in Servamus: January 2021, reveals more details.

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

Families across the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which will likely have a long-lasting impact on public health and our well-being. Traditionally, alcohol abuse, which is already a public health concern in many countries across the world, including South Africa, dramatically increases during pandemics and disasters. According to the US National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), previous disasters, such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina, saw an increase in alcohol abuse as people believed that it helped them to “ease” the stress of the events and anxiety about the future. During the COVID-19 pandemic we have noticed how alcohol abuse has the potential to further complicate an already difficult period (NIAAA, 2020).

During the first part of 2020, even before the world realised what the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic would be, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that alcohol use during the pandemic may potentially exacerbate health concerns and risk-taking behaviours. When some US states issued stay-at-home orders as a mitigating strategy for COVID-19 transmission, there was a 55% increase in national sales of alcohol for the week ending 21 March 2020, compared to the corresponding period in 2019. Online sales increased by 262% from 2019 (Pollard et al, 2020). The USA was not the only country showing an increase in alcohol sales and abuse. In May 2020, Sky News reported that alcohol sales in the UK had increased by 67% before they went into lockdown, with many drinking at home in isolation (Sky News, 2020). A survey from the Australian Alcohol and Drug Foundation found that 12% of Australians began consuming alcohol on a daily basis since the coronavirus pandemic had begun (Mandal, 2020).

South Africa imposes an alcohol ban
When the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that a full national lockdown was to start at midnight on 26 March 2020, which included a total ban on alcohol sales, South Africans streamed to liquor outlets to stock up on their liquid gold for the period they had to stay at home. When the initial alcohol ban was lifted on 1 June 2020, albeit under strict conditions, liquor outlets saw another rush. What might have been a reason for celebration for alcohol lovers, was much more of a nightmare for emergency rooms in some provinces which came under massive strain due to the lifting of the ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol. An orthopaedic surgeon working at a Durban private hospital had to treat a man whose finger had been bitten by his wife during a drunken fight. This doctor confirmed the spike in trauma cases, as did a trauma specialist at a Durban state hospital who said that trauma unit cases tripled in one week in June 2020. This doctor was quoted as having said that “we have seen an explosion in stabbings, accidents and assaults. It’s a nightmare. All are linked to unbanning alcohol” (Medical Brief, 2020a).

On 12 July 2020 and without prior warning, Mr Ramaphosa reinstated the prohibition on the sale of alcohol with immediate effect. Dr Zweli Mkhize, the Minister of Health said at the time: “When the alcohol restrictions were lifted ... facilities reported up to 60% of increase in trauma emergencies admissions and up to 200% increase in ICU on trauma admissions.” The idea behind the renewed ban was to free up approximately 50 000 beds in public hospitals over the following eight weeks (Medical Brief, 2020b). On 17 August 2020, the suspension of the sale of alcohol was lifted subject to certain restrictions and in November 2020 restrictions on the sale of alcohol were eased further.

Why do people turn to alcohol during pandemics and disasters?
According to Dr George Koob, the Director of NIAAA in the USA, there are many reasons why people increase their alcohol consumption during pandemics as we have seen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons include anything from using alcohol to relieve the stress of being unemployed to feelings of isolation during physical distancing. “More people may use alcohol and people may drink more heavily to cope with stress, sleep disturbances and even boredom, increasing their risk for alcohol use disorder and other adverse consequences,” he said. Although alcohol temporarily dampens the brain and the body’s response to stress, feelings of stress and anxiety not only return, but worsen, once the effect of alcohol wears off. Over time, excessive alcohol consumption can cause adaptations in the brain that intensify the stress response. As a result, drinking alcohol to cope can make problems worse and one may end up drinking to fix the problem that alcohol caused (NIAAA, 2020).

Dr Adriane Dela Cruz, a psychiatrist who specialises in drug and alcohol addiction in the USA argues that people have long turned to alcohol to try to relieve everyday stress, and the pandemic has pushed up anxiety levels for many people. “There are all these uncertainties: ‘Will I still have a job? When will my kids go back to school? When can I see my family again and hug them?’” she said and added that anxiety is not solely responsible for fuelling excessive drinking during pandemics. With an increasing number of people who had to work from home and self-isolate, researchers witnessed that some of these people experienced loneliness and boredom, which are two additional potential triggers for excessive alcohol use. Dr Dela Cruz said: “This cultural idea that alcohol is a good way to deal with problems is disheartening. If it’s one drink, it’s totally fine. But I’m worried when drinking becomes the routine, go to solution” (Chistensen, 2020).

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[This is only an extract of an article published in Servamus: January 2021. If you are interested in reading the rest of the article that explains how alcohol abuse may increase risk of contracting the virus; the link between crime and the alcohol ban; the opening up of a criminal market; and the cost of the alcohol ban, please contact Servamus’s offices. Tel: (012) 345 4622 or send an e-mail to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Ed.]

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Servamus - January 2021

A lack of employment and job opportunities is often considered to be an important reason for criminal behaviour.
By Kotie Geldenhuys
Towards the end of March 2020, the President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that as of midnight on 26 March 2020, South Africa would go into a "hard lockdown".
By Kotie Geldenhuys
The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in various lockdown levels across the world, has opened new opportunities for criminals to exploit people - especially in cyberspace.
By Annalise Kempen
Families across the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic which will likely have a long-lasting impact on public health and our well-being.
By Kotie Geldenhuys

Pollex - January 2021

Read More - S v Leshilo (345/2019) [2020] ZASCA 98 (8 September 2020) (SCA)
Mr Moshidi Danny Leshilo (hereinafter referred to as “the accused”), was accused 1 before the regional court, Pretoria (“the trial court”) where he was convicted on 11 June 2014 of housebreaking with the intent to commit an unknown offence in terms of section 262 of the Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 (count 1); the unlawful possession of a firearm (count 2); and the unlawful possession of ammunition (count 3).
Read More - S v JA 2017 (2) SACR 143 (NCK)
Mr JA, the accused who is from Port Nolloth on the northern part of the South African west coast, was convicted of rape before the regional court, Springbok in Namaqualand.
Read More - S v Ndlovu 2017 (2) SACR 305 (CC)
Relevant legislation (1) Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act 32 of 2007 provides for the offence of rape simpliciter (Afrikaans: “sonder voorbehoud”).

Letters - January 2021

Hearty congratulations to Sgt T S Moletsane of the Beaufort West Stock Theft Unit who was awarded as the Best Member of a Stock Theft Unit - for the fourth consecutive year!
January Magazine Cover

Servamus' Mission

Servamus is a community-based safety and security magazine for both members of the community as well as safety and security practitioners with the aim of increasing knowledge and sharing information, dedicated to improving their expertise, professionalism and service delivery standards. It promotes sound crime management practices, freedom of speech, education, training, information sharing and a networking platform.