Most drunks I’ve ever come across are irrational and violent and it is not a South African phenomenon.
In other countries, it is called ‘glassing’ someone and very common. Even women are involved.
It may be true that the incidence of this crime is more prevalent in SA due to the high number of poor and uneducated but not worthy of making it sound like a special issue - as if South African drunks are somehow more violent than drunks from other countries.
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High levels of violence are literally making South Africans blind, with a significant number losing the use of one or both eyes due to being shot or stabbed with knives, screwdrivers and smashed bottles.
Organisations working with the blind say violence is the leading cause of eye injuries. One hospital in Cape Town has reported that in cases referred to them alone, 100 eyes are lost annually due to violent activity.
The League of Friends of the Blind executive director Philip Bam said that an average of 30 people were referred to his organisation every month for eye injuries caused by violence. Bam said most injuries were caused while people were under the influence of alcohol and became involved in petty fights. He said besides medical causes, people were blinded by stabbings or when dangerous substances were thrown in their eyes. Gunshot injuries had also become more prevalent over the past few years.
Bam said the social implications of having too much easy access to alcohol in poor communities had created problems.
"The impacts of being blind are devastating as people lose their jobs and have to be retrained over a long period of time before their lives can be restored to normal," he said.
Cape Town Society for the Blind placement officer Virgenia Davidson said she estimated that over the past year there had been an increase in people blinded in general violence and criminal activity.
Davidson, who finds work for people who become blind, said it was mostly younger people from disadvantaged communities and between the ages of 19 and 25 who were blinded in violent incidents.
Professor David Meyer, the head of Stellenbosch University's ophthalmology department at Tygerberg academic hospital, said Monday mornings saw the "harvest of excessive drinking over the weekend".
Often it was the left eyes that were lost because people usually used their right hand to attack someone. Meyer said often the top of a smashed glass bottle was used to hit someone in the face, which usually led to glass in the eye.