- The Pretoria High Court has heard FITA'S application for leave to appeal its previous ruling over the tobacco ban
- The government claims that the entity is solely focused on the financial gains of the industry
- However, FITA is adamant that refusing an appeal would be a 'massive denial of justice'
The government insists that the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association's application for leave to appeal the High Court's previous ruling on the ban is focused solely on the financial interests of members, not the public.
Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has been locked in numerous legal battles over the regulation. However, FITA's lawyers are adamant that refusing it the right to appeal would be a 'massive denial of justice'.
The same court had earlier dismissed with costs FITA's initial case seeking to have the ban overturned.
On Wednesday, the hearing regarding the possible appeal was held over Zoom, with advocate Marumo Moreane commenting on behalf of the state that:
“The application is primarily aimed at protecting the financial interests, of the applicant's members to ensure that they are allowed to trade in cigarettes and tobacco products."
News24 reports that Advocate Arnold Subel had argued that the state had failed to prove the ban had provided the healthcare system with any relief.
Subel had lamented the dire economic consequences of the prohibition, saying that it could lead to the collapse of the industry. Subel also warned that smokers would turn to other means of obtaining their fix:
“Bans notoriously do not work when it comes to ending alcohol-related activities or smoking."
Judgement over whether or not the appeal will be heard by the court was postponed until next week.
Earlier, Briefly.co.za had spoken to Tax Justice SA founder Yusuf Abramjee, who says that the government has essentially written a blank cheque for criminals:
“With their decision to extend the irrational and unworkable tobacco ban the National Command Council has written a blank cheque for criminals and robbed the South African people of billions of rands that could save lives.
"All the evidence shows that the vast majority of smokers are not stopping smoking during the lockdown and are simply buying on the black market, so the ban is failing in its sole stated purpose."
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