VINPRO has launched an urgent application for an interim interdict against the ban on the sale of wine in the Western Cape.
The industry body, which represents almost 2 600 wine grape producers, cellars and other wine-related businesses, said yesterday the court action was an effort to obtain interim relief for wine businesses.
The preliminary date for the hearing was scheduled for Friday.
Vinpro managing director Rico Basson said the latest two-week ban followed 19 weeks of revenue loss over the past 15 months, which has had a devastating effect on the wine and tourism sector that employs more than 269 000 people.
“A large number of our wine producers and wineries are small. More than 80 percent of the 529 wineries are small and medium enterprises and are reliant on direct sales to customers. Although wine exports may continue, the industry exports less than 50 percent of annual production, with the other half sold on home soil. With no financial support from government for these businesses, their prospects, and that of employees, are extremely bleak,” said Basson.
During the past year, the wine industry said it had worked tirelessly to be part of the solution when the country found itself in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic. It said this included collaborating with the government and implementing preventative measures to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of the people working throughout its value-chain and the broader community.
Vinpro and its industry partners made submissions to the National Coronavirus Command Council over the past weekend, which entailed interventions that would ensure a balanced approach to curb the spread of Covid-19 while keeping the economy afloat. It said it was unfortunate that its representations in respect of this risk-adjusted approach were not taken into account.
Vinpro initially approached the high court on January 27 to seek urgent relief during the previous ban. This was postponed when the restrictions were lifted, and the matter was set to be heard in the Western Cape High Court from August 23 to 27.
Vinpro, however, reserved the right to launch an interim interdict in the event of a full ban being reinstated before the court date.
Cayla Murray, spokesperson for Western Cape Premier Alan Winde, said they understood from correspondence from Vinpro that Winde would be cited as an interested party in this matter, given that he was already a party to the main application that was still to be determined in August.
“In that main application, Vinpro is seeking an order to declare that the Western Cape provincial government should determine the regulations that apply to the sale and distribution of wine in this province,” said Murray.
She said the premier had agreed to abide in that application and filed an explanatory affidavit stating that such a finding by the court would be acceptable and that the Western Cape government stood ready to fulfil such a role.