Court dismisses SAB's bid against booze sales ban

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A legal bid by SA Breweries (SAB) against government's latest alcohol sales ban has been dismissed with costs by the Western Cape High Court.

The ban – the fourth of its kind since the national lockdown started – began on 27 June. SAB applied on an urgent basis to have it be declared unlawful and invalid, and wanted it to be reviewed and set aside.

Citing a range of technical issues, the brewer contended in its arguments that Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did not have the necessary powers to introduce the regulations that would suspend the sale of alcohol, and that the move should have been submitted to more scrutiny by parliament. 

But Judge Robert Henney dismissed SAB’s application with costs.

He ruled that the regulations are not inconsistent with existing legislation, and that the minister has the power to suspend the distribution of liquor during in a state of disaster.

The judged also accepted the minister's contentions that the rapid spread of the Delta variant "justified the lack of full and proper consultation with all the stakeholders, including the SAB".

"Given the circumstances and the limited timeframe in which the Minister had to act, it cannot be said that she acted in a procedurally unfair manner," the judge said.

On Wednesday, judgment was reserved in a case that saw wine industry body Vinpro seeking an urgent interdict to allow the Western Cape government to decide on the need for alcohol sales bans in the province.

Vinpro wants liquor sales bans to be decided upon at provincial level, based on the local risk posed by Covid-19.

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