‘Parents fail to control their children who drink excessively’

One year has passed since the Enyobeni tragedy, which left the parents of the children who died with a permanent scar as well as a reminder of one of society’s ills: underage drinking. To prevent underage drinking and liquor retailers from hosting “pens down” events, the Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) is running its Anti Pens Down campaign.

The ECLB has long led this effort because underage drinking is a major issue in South Africa. Recently, ECLB visited Ndevana in an effort to deter young people from drinking during their winter holidays.

The Buffalo City Municipality (BCM) expressed that they are disappointed in the “attitude of some parents as they fail to control their children who drink excessively in the name of school exams pens down.”

In a report, the municipality said they had warned parents numerous times to be vigilant, keep an eye on their children, and not let them go to drinking parties masquerading as school-related activities.

As hundreds of young people (about 700) descended on the beachfront on Saturday, the Metro Law Enforcement, Traffic Services, Fire, Disaster Management, and South African Police Services had their hands full.

According to reports, BCM and provincial traffic officers put up roadblocks throughout the beachfront area in Fleet Street, Esplanade, and Bowls Road where they arrested 15 drunk drivers.

Pens down parties at the East London beachfront, Amalinda and Dimbaza, required the safety and security cluster to take action.

“15 Children were escorted home as part of prevention of Missing Persons, and one parent was assisted to locate and rescue her child at the beachfront.

“Five children were taken to hospital due to incidents related to over drinking. Alcohol like vodka, brandy and ciders were emptied and warnings were issued to law breakers to vacate,” said the municipality spokesperson Samkelo Ngwenya.

The security cluster and the ECLB conducted a coordinated operation against the Pens Down Party on Friday night, visiting Monty’s, a nightclub pub and grub, as well as taverns in Nompumelelo, Abbotsford, and Ducats.

“Following last year’s Enyobeni tragedy, it is important for parents to take responsibility of their children’s actions and whereabouts and make it their business to monitor their children’s movements. Government interventions alone cannot be the only solution to this problem,” said Ngwenya.

In a recent communication, ECLB spokesperson Pumlani Fani advised parents to monitor their children’s whereabouts and to be extremely alert during this time.

“We further send a stern warning to all liquor traders not to host these Pens’ Down parties in their establishments as this is a gross violation of their trading conditions and a criminal offence. We commend learners and other members of community who continue to report these cases to the ECLB and SAPS,” said Fani.