The Tavern Tatler

News for the liquor trade

SAB is 100% behind the implementation of 0% breath alcohol content limit

With the country having moved to level 3 of lockdown and eased regulations coming into effect, there is a visible increase in the number of road users once again. This has made the National Road Traffic Amendment Bill of 2019 is more important than ever before. The Bill, which was submitted by government to Parliament at the beginning of this year, will completely prohibit the consumption of alcohol if driving. South African Breweries welcomes this necessary move.

“As a mother of three, the safety of my family on the road is always a major concern," said Zoleka Lisa, vice-president of corporate affairs at SAB. "SAB, as one of the largest players in the alcohol industry, are 100% in support of Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula’s commitment to implement a breath alcohol content (BAC) 0% zero-tolerance policy by June 2020.” 

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has become a reality across the country, the use of breathalysers and blood tests in the fight against drunk driving is in question.

In a partnership with the Department of Transport and the Road Traffic Management Corporation, SAB’s Alcohol Evidence Centres (AECs) have been central to the implementation of the proposed BAC 0% bill and they set to reinforce the sentiment that individuals must not even have a single drink if they intend getting behind the wheel of a vehicle. “The AECs are SAB’s best effort to help equip law enforcement with the tools and support they need to effectively curb road accidents,” said Lisa.

AECs ensure that law enforcement is able to test suspected drunk drivers and confirm their breath or blood alcohol limit using evidentiary breathalyser alcohol testing (EBAT) and blood tests done by registered medical practitioners. They also ensure that the evidence collected during these processes are admissible in court.

At the beginning of 2019, SAB matched its verbal commitment to reducing road fatalities by contributing on average R10-million to maintaining and upgrading AECs across the country over a three-year period.

Now that the Covid-19 pandemic has become a reality across the country, the use of breathalysers and blood tests in the fight against drunk driving is in question. Prior to the lockdown, the South African Police Services had already suspended the use of breathalysers during alcohol roadblocks. SAB already is in talks with its partners to ensure that the Covid-19 pandemic does not create a gap in the system that puts lives at risk.

“Due to the nature of viral transmission, the use of breathalysers and blood tests has been put into question and more stringent regulations will be put in place. As our partners at the Road Traffic Management Corporation and local authorities update procedures surrounding BAC testing in line with developing Department of Health regulations, we will continue to work with them to ensure our AECs remain operational during these unprecedented times,” said Lisa.


As a testament to AEC effectiveness, SAB launched the Pietermaritzburg AEC in April last year, and subsequently witnessed a 44% reduction in road fatalities in the area by November. In the five months between March and July last year, there were also more than 420 arrests in the area related to drinking and driving. More importantly, there were 70 successful prosecutions.

Lisa said: “SAB is fully committed to curbing the threat of drunk drivers on the road and does not want AEC momentum to fade, even with Covid-19 on the rise across the country. Working with our partners is going to be key to this as new developments continue to arise. The suspension of breathalysers should never be a reason to drink and drive. We will keep up the pressure, and do it within the boundaries of the law.”

Introducing Firsti, SA's first-ever no-data-required click-and-collect solution

The South African Breweries (SAB) is excited to announce the launch of Firsti, which will allows consumers the ability to purchase their alcohol from the safety and comfort of their homes. As the entire world transitions to contactless dining and shopping, SAB is gearing up for the same reliance on technology in order to bridge the gap between consumer and product.  

According to Digital Statistics for 2020, out of our population of just under 59-million people, South Africa has a staggering 103-million mobile phone connections, which presents an enormous opportunity for ecommerce.

“As an industry leader, we pride ourselves in developing innovative ways to meet our consumer needs," says Zoleka Lisa, vice-president of corporate affairs at SAB. "With Firsti we are able to ensure that our customers are safe, and can avoid unnecessary crowds."

Firsti is unique in that it creates access despite the relatively high data costs in the country. Prior to its launch, most options for buying alcohol required stable internet connections and data in order to complete an order, which excluded the majority of the population. But a s a fully USSD solution, Firsti allows users without a smartphone or data/internet connection to use the platform by simply dialing *120*464#.  As a data-light ecommerce solution, Firsti is an inclusive platform on which consumers can buy alcohol as an individual or sell it as an outlet.

“With Firsti, we want to reaffirm our commitment to assisting government’s efforts to contain the spread of Covid-19 and prioritise the safety of our customers and retailer partners. We encourage customers and retailers alike to use this solution for buying and selling alcohol, in order to avoid crowds and practice social distancing,” concluded Lisa.

To try Firsti, dial *120*464# and follow the prompts to place your order select the products you would like, the tavern you want to collect from, and a time slot to collect.  Once you have placed your order, go to your selected tavern during your selected time slot and pick up your products. On arrival, you will have to present your identity document and the confirmation message, which you receive on your phone after the order was placed.

A licensed outlet that would like to sell their alcohol on Firsti can simply dial *120*652# to register.