MICHAEL FRIDJHON: Banning tipples could topple our regard for the law
During times of prohibition, even the most upright citizens redefine what constitutes criminal conduct
Until about a month ago most white South Africans’ impressions of Prohibition were limited to movies such as Bugsy Malone, The Untouchables and Miller’s Crossing. However, black South Africans who grew up before the Malan Commission report liberated the sale of alcohol to blacks in the early 1960s will have a less romantic view of bootlegging, police corruption and the evils associated with home-brewed concoctions.
Five weeks into a Covid-induced (and politically induced) prohibition, we’re all facing a different reality. Anyone who has been tracking sales of yeast (and has not been naive enough to assume that isolation has produced a massive spike in home baking) will know that domestic alcohol production is on the rise. It has long been a feature of the SA way of life: the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that illicit production accounts for 25% of the country’s alcohol consumption. Lockdown has done for this home industry what Viagra did for Pfizer.