Home South African Supreme Court grants Fita leave to appeal tobacco ban ruling

Supreme Court grants Fita leave to appeal tobacco ban ruling

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The court’s decision to grant leave to appeal comes amid wrangling within Cabinet on whether to lift the ban that has been in place since March 27.

Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni. Picture: Supplied Fita

THE SUPREME Court of Appeal (SCA) has granted the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) leave to appeal the high court dismissal of its legal challenge to the ban on tobacco sales, the association said on Saturday.

Fita chairperson Sinenhlanhla Mnguni welcomed the decision and said that while a trial date had yet to be set, the court had indicated that the matter would be expedited.

The court order came three days after Fita filed papers in reply to those from Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who maintained that the ban is critical to government’s efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

The SCA on Friday set aside the cost order the North Gauteng High Court made against Fita in July when it dismissed its application for leave to appeal the court’s ruling on June 26 upholding the controversial ban.

Fita has argued that the matter is urgent and in the public interest, as it pertains to the extent of the powers the minister can exercise in terms of the Disaster Management Act. The court’s decision to grant leave to appeal comes amid wrangling within Cabinet on whether to lift the ban that has been in place since March 27.

“We are obviously extremely happy with the ruling of the Supreme Court of Appeal which has granted Fita leave to appeal the ruling of the Gauteng provincial division, which dismissed our application challenging the cigarette sales ban,” Mnguni said.

“We have always maintained that we are confident in the merits of our case and we are confident therefore that the Supreme Court of Appeal will arrive at a different ruling. We have been advised that the hearing will be expedited.”

Fita contends that the ban on cigarette sales is unlawful because the minister failed to meet the legal requirements of rationality and necessity, firstly because it has patently failed to force smokers to quit and secondly because science has not established a link between smoking and more severe Covid-19 infection.

– African News Agency (ANA)