The South African ‘dop’ system

The South African ‘Dop’ System

The ‘dop’ system was a payment model utilized on South African farms within which, farm workers were paid part of their wages in the form of alcohol (usually wine). The payment system originated in colonial times and was aimed at encouraging local indigenous people in the Cape to work for their masters. The ‘dop’ system played an important role in maintaining control over the labour force. Alcohol was usually supplied at the end of the working day or at the end of the week in later times. The ‘dop’ system is no longer legal, but cheap wine is still made available to workers on many farms – either directly or purchased on credit by employees.The legacy of the ‘dop’ system remains and it is likely to be a major contributing factor behind alcohol-related problems such as trauma, interpersonal violence, occupational injuries and social disruption, especially in provinces such as the Western and Northern Cape.

Substance / alcohol abuse not only has a negative impact on the health sector, but also impacts negatively on the family and society in terms of crime and negative effects on economic and social development. In a study of women abused by their spouses in the previous Cape Province, 69% identified alcohol/drug abuse as the main cause of conflict leading to abuse. Additionally many substance / alcohol abusers turn to crime as a means of financing their addictions, it has been estimated that the economic costs associated with alcohol and drug use could be in the region of 1.3% and 2.6% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).Based on the Canadian experience, direct health care costs associated with alcohol and illicit drugs could amount to about 16% of the total economic cost.

The Haven Addiction Recovery Centre offers alcohol rehabilitation counselling to farm workers within the Eden area of the Western Cape of South Africa.