New cigarette ban petition takes aim at judges in Fita case
Cape Town - Bev Maclean, the woman whose petition demanding that the government lifts the ban on the sale of tobacco products has garnered nearly half-a-million votes, is at it again.
This time she is targeting the three judges who heard the case brought against the government by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) earlier this month. Judgment in the matter was reserved with no indication when a decision could be expected.
Maclean on Wednesday launched a new petition demanding that the three judges who heard the matter hand down their judgment immediately.
"Just like you, I am now sick and tired of these waiting games. I have created a poll and this poll is going to be sent to the Judges (Dunstan) Mlambo, (Annali) Basson and Molefe who are STILL deciding if Fita have won their court case," Maclean says on the change.org website where the poll is being hosted.
"We, the smokers and smoker friends want a decision, we are tired of waiting any longer."
In less than 24 hours the new poll has already garnered more than 640 000 signatures, more even than Maclean's original poll which is still gaining support daily.
In their submissions to the North Gauteng High Court, Fita argued that Regulation 27 of the regulations governing the national lockdown were "self-evidently irrational"
“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," Fita chairman Sinenhlanhla Mnguni argued in papers filed before the court.
"To force people to go 'cold turkey' is an act of cruelty," Arnold Subel SC, for Fita, argued before a full bench of the court, adding the ban amounted to "taking a sledgehammer to beat people into submission".
Aside from the side effects to smokers and the strain on their finances from the hugely inflated cost of illicit cigarettes, the ban, which has been in effect since the start of the national lockdown has cost the country billions in lost tax revenue.
A second challenge to the ban, from British American Tobacco South Africa (BAT SA) and Japan Tobacco International (JTI) hit a roadblock when the two tobacco giants were informed that the Western Cape High Court would not hear their case this week as they had originally requested.