Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini warned that the government intends tightening measures to curb substance abuse, including alcohol, this year.
Speaking in the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote, she referred to a substance abuse summit hosted by her department last year.
Research papers presented there showed drug and alcohol abuse were linked to ill-health and social disorders the world over, she said.
Risky sexual behaviour
It was also shown that alcohol intoxication was associated with deaths arising from injuries and with increased risky sexual behaviour.
About 65% of murders in South Africa were associated with social behaviour largely fuelled by alcohol abuse.
Pursuant to the outcomes of this summit, the interministerial committee (IMC) on substance abuse would consolidate its legislative review initiatives this year, Dlamini said.
These would focus on banning alcohol advertising, raising the age limit for alcohol consumption from 18 to 21, and closing illegal shebeens and those located near schools and "places of worship".
Vulnerable groups targeted
"The IMC will heighten its public awareness efforts working with Love Life, Soul City, and other social partners highlighting the social costs associated with the harmful use of alcohol."
Dlamini welcomed initiatives by civil society groups in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to convert shebeens into community centres.
The department further intended to intensify its fight against substance abuse by strengthening its campaigns to target vulnerable groups, she said.
(Sapa, April 2012)
Alcohol abuse and dependence