‘The alcohol ban has turned us into criminals’

Johannesburg – It’s the cases of wine that are selling the fastest, says Charlene Marais*.

“I think a lot of people probably stocked up the hard tack, but now they don’t have the wines.”

The mother of three, who is unemployed, started selling alcohol on the black market recently to help bring in an income. She dabbles in cigarettes, too, but that only covers her petrol.

“I don’t have work so this is my income… Last week, we did five cases (of wine) and I just got an order for one case. Nothing’s sold on the hard tack and you make maybe R300 to R400 a case of wine. I don’t know what they’re making (the suppliers).”

A big part of what interferes with demand is the pricing. “I’m very lucky because the few people who have been buying are on the richer side of things.”

Marais got involved through a friend who gave her a contact. “You place your order with them (the contact), collect and pay them cash and then deliver your stock.”

The government’s ban on alcohol has turned people like Marais into criminals. “They are making you a criminal. They are making us do this.” And it’s worth the risk. “At this stage it brings in a little cash. I’m fine and the deliveries last week were quite far; it worked out well – there were no cops on the road.”

She sells the booze to friends of friends and to relatives. “Then at least they can get their stock from someone they know .. People are worried about the hard tack, especially if the bottles are unlabelled and that. That’s why we’ve decided not to go with those people.

“I will go with someone who has a label on it; you can see it’s new. We even tried a bottle over the weekend and it was definitely brandy. “I don’t know the brand is, but it’s definitely whisky, brandy, vodka and gin. The guy down the road drinks the gin and he’s quite happy.”

* Not her real name

The Saturday Star

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