Home South African Vinpro refuses to back down in court battle against Covid booze bans

Vinpro refuses to back down in court battle against Covid booze bans

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File picture: EPA

It argues that provinces, and not national government, should decide whether or not to impose liquor restrictions.

A LAWSUIT by Vinpro contesting the approach followed by the national government to liquor ban restrictions within the Disaster Management Act continues in the Western Cape High Court after the matter was adjourned on Monday.

Vinpro is a non-profit company which represents close to 2,600 South African wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders.

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. It claims the blanket liquor ban missed its purpose.

De Waal presented Vinpro’s argument on the structure of government’s argument by way of an interim application asking that evidence regarding the third wave be taken into account, as well as the issue of mootness since the ban has been partially lifted.

He said Vinpro would not back down from the fight to reopen the industry fully and to rebuild it.

Arguing that the provinces, and not national government, should decide whether or not to impose liquor restrictions, De Waal said his client was concerned by the inconsistency between the regulations and the right to health care.

The government side, led by advocate Nazreen Bawa SC, is expected to put its argument across on Tuesday.

In a statement issued before the court proceedings began, Vinpro managing director Rico Basson said: “We know provinces are affected differently by the pandemic. Therefore we believe a differentiated approach in handling the crisis is needed to limit the economic impact of a lockdown.

“Our challenge of the government’s decision by way of an urgent interdict application and hearing on July 21 was subsequently rendered academic because the ban was partially lifted four days later. In our interim application we now ask that this evidence should also be taken into account.

“Wine is part of agriculture, as is tourism. Our industry supports 80,183 people working at farm and cellar level and 188,913 people working further down the wine value chain.

“This industry has built a strong brand reputation as a unique asset for the country. The South African wine industry is more than a drink, it’s a livelihood. And it is our responsibility to make sure we save this industry for future generations,” said Basson.

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