Cape Town - Wine producers organisation Vinpro’s urgent interim interdict application seeking to give the Premier of the Western Cape the power to adopt deviations to the June 28 national alcohol ban, has been declared moot by the Western Cape High Court.
Vinpro’s application to the court was heard on July 21, and after submissions by legal teams acting on behalf of Vinpro and the South African government, judgment was reserved.
Before the judgment could be delivered, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on July 25 and announced that the liquor ban would be lifted with immediate effect.
Acting Judge Noluthando Nziweni said: “Given the president’s announcement, I then invited the parties to make written submissions insofar as the mootness of this matter. The parties submitted comprehensive written arguments.
“I am indebted to them for their invaluable submissions. In essence, the parties agree that the matter is moot.”
Judge Nziweni defined mootness as essentially restricting the court’s jurisdiction, or powers to hear or determine a matter.
“Certainly, a court is not in any way avoiding giving a decision on the issues. However, in our law the doctrine of mootness is recognised. Particularly if giving judgment in a matter will produce no tangible result, but merely an opinion.
“The interim relief sought by the applicant (Vinpro) ceased to exist as a dispute when the president’s announcement rendered it unnecessary for this court to consider the issue.
“The remedy sought from this court has manifestly fallen away. The matter has become moot and is therefore struck off the roll,” said Judge Nziweni.
Before his ruling, the South African wine industry said it had previously made tireless efforts to actively engage with the national government since lockdown began, but had been met by "a continued lack of proper and real consultation and assistance“.
Vinpro said it had been left with no option other than to pursue legal action as a last resort to urgently reopen trade and prevent further business closures and job losses.
At that point the industry had been out of business for 23 weeks since the first alcohol ban.