- Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo has opted out of giving the government more time to respond to FITA's case against the tobacco ban
- The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association has taken the state to court over the current total restrictions on the sale of tobacco products
- The government's hopes of an extension to file answering affidavits in this matter have now been dashed
The Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association is pleased the Gauteng Judge President Dunstan Mlambo has decided against allowing the government more time to respond to a challenge against its tobacco ban.
Briefly.co.za reported that Cooperative Governance & Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could be facing contempt of court charges after missing her deadline to file an answering application to the action against her.
Now, it has emerged that the minister had requested more time to prepare her response over this controversial issue amid the Covid-19 lockdown.
Sale of tobacco products has been banned in South Africa since the beginning of the lockdown in March.
Commenting on this move, FITA chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni feels it is beyond reason that the government dropped the ball despite being given a generous postponement to respond:
"The respondents have not brought a substantive application for postponement. On this basis alone, we submitted, the request should be denied. We have unequivocally stated that we oppose any request for a postponement and would seek the opportunity of addressing it fully should the application for a postponement be entertained."
JacarandaFM reports that Mnguni found it worrying that the government felt it was acceptable to directly approach the judge:
“We do not consider it appropriate to engage in extra curial communications with presiding officers on this matter, particularly in view of the fact that the Judge President is presiding in the matter."
The case will now continue on 9 and 10 June in the Pretoria High Court.
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