Home South African Judgment reserved in Vinpro case against government’s liquor ban restrictions

Judgment reserved in Vinpro case against government’s liquor ban restrictions

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Vinpro, which is represented by advocate Johan de Waal SC, launched its legal application during the second wave of Covid-19 infections in January this year. File picture: Picture: Rick Bowmer/AP

Vinpro launched its legal application during the pandemic’s second wave in January this year, claiming that the blanket liquor ban missed its purpose during the third wave.

Cape Town – Judgment in the Vinpro case against the government’s liquor ban restrictions within the Disaster Management Act (DMA) has been reserved.

Adjourning the case, Western Cape High Court Judge Mokgoatji Dolamo congratulated both sides in the matter for being very well prepared with their arguments and submissions, but added that this had made the job of the judges harder in coming up with a decision.

He was joined on the bench by judges Hayley Slingers and Derek Wille.

Vinpro launched its legal application during the pandemic’s second wave in January this year, claiming that the blanket liquor ban missed its purpose during the third wave.

In her submissions on behalf of the government, Nazreen Bawa SC, argued that every time restrictions were announced Vinpro challenged them and by the time the challenge reached court, it has become an academic exercise.

“The application was brought vexatiously and we submit there is no merit in the case. If ever there was a reason to dismiss such a case brought during a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, this is it.

“Whether the January restrictions were necessary does not reflect on whether future restrictions will be necessary on the basis of the case here. The Covid-19 pandemic is a national disaster, and liquor bans must be navigated at national level,” said Bawa.

However, Vinpro said it had been left with no option other than to pursue legal action as a last resort to urgently reopen trade and prevent further business closures and job losses.

Vinpro’s legal counsel, Johan de Waal SC, said: “The consequences of the nationwide ban are real and are being felt outside the courtroom, in hospitals. It is this severe because the State does not distinguish between saving lives and saving livelihoods.”

He said the State’s opposition to their case was mainly based on their argument that Vinpro’s application is moot, since the ban has been lifted.

He argued that based on the national government’s past actions, imposing several blanket bans, a fourth wave of infections is estimated to hit South Africa in December and this will mean the issue is “certainly not moot“.

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