SAB withdraws booze ban case against government

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SAB has withdrawn its liquor sales ban case against the state.
SAB has withdrawn its liquor sales ban case against the state.
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  • South African Breweries (SAB) has withdrawn its alcohol ban case against the government.
  • In court papers filed at the Constitutional Court on Thursday, SAB said it was withdrawing its application for leave to appeal a case it lost.
  • SAB argued that the bans were unconstitutional, but the court ruled against it.
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South African Breweries (SAB) has withdrawn its litigation against government over the alcohol sales ban under lockdown, more than a year after it first took legal action.

In court papers filed at the Constitutional Court on Thursday, SAB said it was withdrawing its application for leave to appeal, which it made after losing its battle to have the government's Covid-19 related liquor sales bans set aside

The state had imposed the bans to keep hospital beds clear of alcohol related trauma cases, during peaks of the pandemic. The move was meant to ensure that hospital capacity was available for patients with Covid-19. 

But the country's liquor industry pushed back, saying the sales bans were unnecessary and curfews were a better option. 

SAB took the legal route, arguing that the bans were unconstitutional and Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma did not have powers to implement regulations suspending liquor sales.

The beer producer, which also put capital investments worth R5 billion on hold at the height of the bans in 2021, said it lost billions to the bans.

But the AB InBev-owned company lost its case, which led to the case appearing before the Supreme Court of Appeal. However, that court denied SAB's application for leave to appeal, prompting the beer maker to lodge its case at the Constitutional Court.

In its withdrawal notice, SAB also said it would pay the state's "wasted costs" related to the case.

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