Pupils urged to refrain from pens down parties

Pens down has become a South African tradition over the years, where the end of exams is celebrated with the consumption of alcohol. These types of events have drawn large crowds and resulted in large sums of money for whoever is hosting them.

The end-of-year examinations are wrapping up this week, and the Eastern Cape Liquor Board (ECLB) is urging students to avoid pen down parties that are characterised by excessive alcohol consumption. This liquor authority released a statement warning the youth.

The youth are urged to refrain from pens down parties and the liquor retailers are warned not to host them in their establishments.

Furthermore, this week marks the end of this year’s ECLB Pens Down Campaign, which was launched in October to raise awareness about the deplorable and disastrous pens down culture.

This drinking culture is to blame for the worst disaster of the year. The Enyobeni Tavern tragedy, which occurred in June and resulted in the deaths of 21 underage children in Scenery Park, East London.

As the examinations draw to a close, there is growing unease in the Eastern Cape about the pen down parties due to the tragedy that claimed the lives of many young people.

The ECLB CEO, Dr Nombuyiselo Makala warned the pupils about the pens down. “We wish to send a very strong warning to our learners never to organise the Pens Down parties so as to avoid eventualities similar to the Enyobeni Tavern incident,” said Makala.

Makala also issued a stern warning to all liquor retailers, advising them not to host these pens down parties in their establishments. She noted that if a liquor retailer is found to have allowed young people to organise parties in their establishments, immediate action will be taken against that retailer.

“Our liquor inspectors working with SAPS have been deployed throughout the province to closely monitor liquor outlets that might be used for the pens down parties,” said Makala.

Speaking to this newspaper, I’solezwe lesiXhosa, the ECLB Spokesperson Dr Mgwebi Msiya said that they received positive feedback from communities as an indication of the campaign’s effectiveness.

“To date, we haven’t had reported cases of pens down parties hosted in the province and we hope learners have heeded our call for the abandonment of this bad culture,” said Msiya.

He emphasised the actions they will take against liquor retailers who allow pen down parties in their establishments, saying: “Very drastic action will be taken against them starting with immediate suspension of their liquor licenses and laying a criminal charge against them for serving alcohol to underage persons. Their license may also be revoked.”

The ECLB is encouraging young people to find other ways to celebrate their final exams ending without drinking alcohol.

During this time, parents and members of the community are urged to keep an eye out for their children’s movements and whereabouts.

If these parties are suspected, they must be reported to the nearest police station or the Eastern Cape Liquor Board by calling 080 000 0420 or sending a WhatsApp message to 076 403 6223.