Battle against booze ban in court
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Cape Town - The wine industry will be in court on Wednesday to argue an urgent interim interdict application for the reopening of alcohol trade in the province.
Vinpro, which presents about 2 600 local wine producers, said its legal team was ready for arguments in the Western Cape High Court to prevent further business closures and job losses.
“We can confirm that our legal team is ready to argue our urgent interim interdict application in the Western Cape High Court. This would allow the Premier of the Western Cape the power to adopt deviations to the national ban to enable off- and on-consumption sale of liquor in the province. If successful, Vinpro will approach the court to seek similar relief for other provinces,” Vinpro’s Rico Basson said.
While the industry stood in solidarity with all businesses and individuals affected by the events that unfolded last week, the wine industry itself was at the edge of a cliff after its revenue stream had been cut off intermittently over the past 16 months, Basson said.
“Many legal, tax-paying wine and tourism businesses, especially smaller companies who do their part to keep the economy afloat, are facing potential closures, leaving thousands of employees struggling to feed their families,” Basson said.
“This, while illicit trade continues to flourish, including the looting of various liquor traders and distributors last week.”
According to Vinpro, urgent interventions are needed to rebuild the sector, which is on its knees due to decisions they said were not based on sound empirical data.
These interventions include the responsible reopening of the legal wine trade according to a risk-adjusted approach which differentiates between provinces, law enforcement with regard to the abuse/misuse of alcohol, including illicit trade, as well as the enforcement of regulations in place. It also wants financial relief and tangible support from Government, which it says is crucial to help rebuild the sector. A partnership model was also needed to ensure a targeted approach towards harm reduction and behavioural change.
“Vinpro continues to pursue these objectives,” said Basson. “A continued lack of consultation and assistance from National Government unfortunately means that we need to pursue legal action as a last resort to urgently reopen trade and prevent further business closures and job losses.
“We also remain committed to seeing through our main court application that is set down for hearing in the Western Cape High Court before a full bench from August 23 to 26.”