South Africa’s national Covid-19 alcohol ban has caused much consternation and division – but as some have been debating the merits of the law, others have been merrily circumventing it, at a significant profit.
The illegal sale of booze under South Africa’s renewed hard lockdown is now thriving. If you know where to look, you will find traders with access to a huge variety of stock, or private sellers willing to part with their own supply, on WhatsApp, Telegram, and even fully-fledged e-commerce websites, complete with credit card facilities.
There’s a good chance that your friendly neighbourhood bootlegger is ripping you off, though. A price comparison by Business Insider South Africa found wild variations between suppliers, and huge markups – except where prices were suspiciously low.
Much of the initial action on the illegal booze sale front took the form of casual “I know a guy” messages dropped into WhatsApp group chats. It’s still an important marketing tool for those with surplus stock to move.
In casual offers of WhatsApp booze sales made to Business Insider, a case of entry-level estate white wine with a cellar-door price of R390 per case was selling for R600; and a case of craft beer that typically retails for around R300 was selling for R500.
Another more organised seller revealed an extensive list of available stock, which was recently replenished and subject to a price hike after last week’s extension of the ban on legal alcohol sales.
A six pack of Castle Lite bottles, for example, which usually retails for R75, was selling for R120 last week. The price has since jumped 33% to R160, for a total increase from its normal retail price of 113%.
A six pack of Hunter’s Dry, which retails for R90, was selling for R130 prior to the extension. The same thing will now cost you R180, or 38% more, for a total markup of 100%.
For an additional R70, this WhatsApp supplier will also deliver the booze to your door.
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