n SA Crime Quarterly - Shebeens and crime - the multiple criminalities of South African liquor and its regulation

Volume 2013, Issue 45
  • ISSN : 1991-3877



Recent liquor legislation has centred on shebeens as conduits for crime and violence. In contrast to this perspective, we argue that shebeens form part of a complex constellation of relationships influencing alcohol-related violence. Drawing on a survey of shebeen owners in one community in Cape Town, this article explores how their experiences of crime and police raids are reshaping the dynamics of the liquor trade amid conditions of poverty. It argues that inconsistent and often arbitrary policing is driving many shebeens into adopting covert strategies to manage the risks of closure, fines, temporary imprisonment and bribes demanded by the police. In so doing, liquor law enforcement may have inadvertently precipitated new types of violence in township drinking environments. The paper explores the broader implications of these processes for efforts to address alcohol and violence in sustainable and equitable ways that improve quality of life and well-being for all.

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