A ”Minor” Drinking Problem

We have been asked to write this piece based on an article that was published in the Advertiser last week. This write up is relevant to ALL PARENTS, STUDENTS (MINORS) and ILLEGAL DISTRIBUTORS OF ALCOHOL.

The article in last week’s Advertiser involved a house party in Libradene, the invite went viral. The age group of attendees ranged from 13 years old to 30 years old.

The following was alleged:
1. There was a cash bar to purchase alcohol without proof of ID, so alcohol was being sold to minors;
2. The distributors of alcohol were selling without a license;
3. It seemed like most people were on some sort of drugs.

We have been asked what the repercussions would be in this scenario.

The National Liquor Act 59 of 2003 and The Liquor Act 27 of 1989 governs point 1 and 2 above.

Regarding point 1 above, the law prohibits the supply of liquor to a minor. In South Africa a minor is a person under the age of 18 years. The law states that a person must not sell or supply liquor to a minor and that a person must take reasonable measures to determine accurately whether or not a person is a minor, before selling or supplying liquor to that person. It further states that a minor must not make a false claim about their age in order to induce someone to sell that minor liquor and that a person may not make a false claim about the age of a minor in order to persuade a person to supply liquor to the minor.

If any person is found guilty of this offense, they may be held liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R1 000 000.00 (One Million Rand) or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years.

Regarding point 2 above, the law states that a person be licensed in order to be able to sell liquor. Failing to register is a criminal offence and the penalties are severe. The word “sell” is defined as “supply, exchange, offer for sale, display, deliver, supply or dispose of for sale or authorize, direct or allow a sale”.

If any person is found guilty of this offense, that person may be held liable on conviction to a fine or to imprisonment for a period of not more than five years.

In relation to point 3 above as well as the criminal capacity of a minor we advise as follows:
It is obvious that in our law, consumption, purchase and the sale of drugs (whether to a minor or adult) is illegal and therefore we will focus more on the criminal capacity of a minor below.
According to the Child Justice Act:
1. A child younger than 10 years old does not have criminal capacity and therefore cannot be arrested;
2. A child older than 10 years but younger than 14 years is assumed to lack criminal capacity unless proved otherwise by the State;
3. Therefore, a child older than 14 years, in terms of our common law, possesses criminal capacity and can be prosecuted criminally.
Also contained in the Child Justice Act are the requirements that must be satisfied in order for a police official to arrest a minor and therefore should you ever find yourself in this type of situation we would suggest consulting with an Attorney to seek the relevant advice.