SOWETO'S Braamfischerville neighbourhood is home to about 55 000 people and it boasts 2 500 taverns - or about one drinking establishment for every 22 residents.

This is according to Community Forum Police statistics released late last year. About a quarter of Braamfischerville's residents are under the age of 20 years old, according to the 2011 Census.

Bar owners report business is brisk in the neighbourhood with some outlets reporting hundreds of customers a day.

Tsakane Nkhwashu has run Tsakane's Tavern in Braamfischerville Phase 1 for about a decade and sells alcohol and groceries.

"About 200 customers buy alcohol a day," said Tsakane, adding that beers and ciders are his top sellers.

In December, sales rise steeply he says.

Nearby, Mduduzi Zwane runs Sibongile's Place, a tavern which he recently took over from his mum. He said as many as 1 000 customers a day visit his tavern during the festive season.

But Mduduzi said he has also seen the dark side of drinking, with people getting hurt and held up at gunpoint by people while drunk.

Last week, Minister of Transport Dipuo Peters reported that the country had experienced a 14% increase in road fatalities this festive season. Some 1 755 people lost their lives on the road between 1 December and 11 January.

Peters cited alcohol as one of the key drivers of festive fatalities.