The second attack on the government’s ban on the sale of tobacco products during the state of containment will now be heard later than the planned date.
British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) filed an urgent application on June 1 at the Cape Town High Court against the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, the National Covid 19 Command Council and the President.
Batsa and eight other parties are asking for a court order that the Level 3 restriction prohibiting cigarette sales be declared unconstitutional and invalid and set aside. A cost order is also filed against the minister, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, or else she and any other respondents who oppose it.
According to the timeline for when parties had to submit their documents to the court, the respondents had to indicate in writing by June 5 whether or not to oppose the application.
By June 12, which is Friday, respondents must have submitted their reply.
Michael Evans, who represents Batsa, says respondents have asked for more time to submit their reply. They now have until June 15 to do so.
Meanwhile, the date for hearing the case has also changed with the applicants as well as the respondents requesting a full bench of judges to hear the case.
Judge Pearl Mantame, who would hear the case, postponed the case from the 22nd to the 24th of June.
The parties then filed the request for a full bench with Western Cape Judge President John Hlophe, and also requested that the case be heard on June 29 and 30. Hlophe hasn’t decided yet.
If he does not allow it, the case will be heard on June 24.
A full bench of judges heard the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) case this week in Pretoria, and the parties felt they should also be heard by a full bench.
Judgment in the Fita case is reserved.
Batsa’s CEO André Joubert said in his oath that the company was losing about R350m in revenue per week and that its loss of sales since the beginning of the shutdown to the end of May was already R2bn.
Batsa alone collects R214 million worth of excise tax per week, which is paid over to the state treasury.