Fita to oppose attempts to postpone court hearing about lifting cigarette sales ban
Pretoria - The Fair Trade Tobacco Association has vowed to oppose another government application to postpone the hearing on its main application to lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes.
Fita made the pledge after the State Attorney Arista Wasserman wrote to the Gauteng High Courts’ Judge President Dunstan Mlambo last week, asking for the postponement of the hearing due on Tuesday, June 9.
Wasserman wrote the letter after the North Gauteng High Court ruled that some of the lockdown Level 4 regulations were unconstitutional and unlawful, due to the ruling and pressures faced by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.
In his letter, he said it was impossible for the reasons and the record to be properly prepared and incorporated into Dlamini Zuma’s answering affidavit in the Fita matter.
"We repeat the importance of the matter to the parties and the significant public importance and trust that the JP will consider the requests made on behalf of our client as soon as possible. The matter also raises complex issues of public policy, including public health policy," Wasserman said.
The court will on Tuesday hear arguments on the matter before hearing the main application.
In reaction, Fita chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni was adamant that they will oppose any application to postpone the main application.
Fita wants the court to hear its main court application in which they argue that the government has failed to provide them with substantial reasons which supports its claim that the ban on the sale was one of the remedies to fight Covid-19.
In their court papers, Mnguni argues Regulation 27 of the then Level 4 and now Level 3 was ‘self-evidently irrational” saying it ignored a significant number of people who have tried to have their views heard on the ban.
“The regulation is exacerbating the already trying circumstances of millions of South African citizens who are already emotionally fragile and causing increased stress for them."
He added: “There has been a clear failure to balance the interests of the citizens who are legally entitled to purchase cigarettes and tobacco products with measures that may be responsibly and legitimately be taken to combat the pandemic,” Mnguni said.
Meanwhile, in response to a Parliamentary question posed by DA MP Annette Steyn, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: "At this stage, it is difficult to determine when the ban on the sale of tobacco and related products will be lifted. This will depend on such factors as the progression of the disease in South Africa, the readiness of our health systems and evolving knowledge on the nature and impact of the virus itself."IOL