In an affidavit filed in the Western Cape High Court, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says she doesn’t believe that South African Breweries’ (SAB’s) legal challenge is still relevant.
SAB had approached the court to rule on the constitutionality of the now-lifted ban on the sale of liquor.
Dlamini-Zuma said that even though the legal battle seemed irrelevant, she was still compelled to file a response because SAB was persisting with the challenge in its current form.
She said that any response she filed now would be irrelevant since another ban was unimaginable at this point, but would depend on the circumstances of the country.
“While it is not inconceivable that another suspension may be imposed in the future, whether this does occur will be entirely fact dependent with reference to the prevailing circumstances at the time,” she said.
According to the affidavit, Dlamini-Zuma said they never intended to cause harm but the ban on liquor sales was necessary.
“Government has been fully alive to the fact that measures such as the temporary suspension [of liquor sales] have come at significant financial cost to those working and operating in the affected sectors.
“Not withstanding these adverse financial implications, measures such as the temporary suspension have been necessary because their effect was to ensure capacity of the healthcare system to deliver services to those in need thereof and to avoid an unnecessary loss of lives,” the affidavit read.
SAB, however, said that they were still pressing ahead with their court challenge of the liquor ban, even though it had been lifted.
Government is facing with two legal challenges to its ban on the sale of alcohol, one from SAB and the other from wine producers’ organisation Vinpro.
Vinpro said that despite the relaxation of the lockdown restrictions, they would be going ahead with the application in the Western Cape High Court to request that the premier of the province be given the interim legal power to depart from any overall and nationwide ban on the sale of liquor.
Vinpro also said that although they were pleased that businesses could earn an income again, a long and difficult road to recovery for wine-related businesses still lay ahead, adding that in some cases it was too late for some businesses to recover what had already been lost.