Legal showdown between government and Fita put on hold for now
Johannesburg - The legal battle between the government and the Fair-Trade Independent Association (Fita) over the ban of sale of cigarettes has been placed on hold for now.
The parties were due to battle it out in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on Tuesday to hear an initial Fita application on whether the ban included the manufacturing and export of tobacco products.
Parties, however, reached a settlement ahead of the scheduled court date which allowed all Fita related manufacturers to continue to manufacture their tobacco products and placed them on the export market.
FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni told the media they agreed to postpone the court case today after the government confirmed that the manufacturing and export of the tobacco products did not form part of the ban.
“During the course of the last week, a number of court processes and correspondence have been exchanged between the parties via their respective legal representatives. The result of this has been that the government has agreed that the manufacturing and export of tobacco products has always been permitted under the present Regulations promulgated on 29 April 2020 by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs,” Mnguni said.
He added the agreement reached was that the manufacturing of tobacco products would go ahead but the workforce would be limited to only 30% of the total number of employees in a particular plant.
Mnguni further added the government insisted the manufacturing and transport of tobacco would need to adhere to strict health protocols.
Despite the relief, Mnguni highlighted they will go ahead with their main application to challenge the government’s decision to ban the sale of cigarettes.
According to Mnguni, they hope their urgent application will be placed on the court roll soon.
“We will now turn our focus to the relief sought in the main application, including confirmation by a court of law that the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes is lawful under the lockdown regulations. In an effort to expedite the matter, the respective legal representatives of both parties are currently working on a timetable to have part of the main case of our court application heard as soon as reasonably possible," he said.
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