FITA Press Release 11 May 2020

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Press release – FITA – for immediate release

FITA wishes to update the public on its court application regarding the prohibition of manufacturing and local sales of cigarettes in the country. The matter was brought in two parts. Part A was to be heard before the Gauteng High Court – Pretoria tomorrow on 12 May 2020.

During the course of the last week a number of court processes and correspondence have been exchanged between the parties via their respective legal representatives. The result of this has been that the Respondents have agreed to the following which was sought in part A of our application:

  1. That the manufacturing and export of tobacco products has always been permitted under the present Regulations promulgated on 29 April 2020 by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs as follows:
  • Regarding the export of tobacco products: Tobacco products constitute manufacturing products permitted for export in terms of item 2 of Annexure C to the regulations;
  • Regarding the manufacture of tobacco products: The manufacture of tobacco products is permitted, up to 30% employment, in terms of part C(9) of Table 1 to the regulations;
  • All manufacturing and transport of tobacco products will need to be performed under strict adherence to health protocols.
  1. It can also be seen from the papers filed by the Respondents that inter alia the National Coronavirus Command Council (“NCCC”) does not vote on matters and certainly did not vote on the issues relating to, amongst other things, the change of stance ultimately leading to the insertion of section 27 in the latest regulations under the Disaster Management Act during the relevant meetings relating thereto, and no votes were taken at any such meetings and therefore, there are no minutes of any meetings where any vote was taken in relation to the subject matter of FITA’s court application, or possibly at all
  1. The Respondents further argue in their papers that the minutes of NCCC meetings before the lockdown regulations were made, and before the President’s address have no relevance to the decision to promulgate regulation 27 of the lockdown regulations.;
  1. The Respondents have now agreed to provide us with the record of decision and the reasons for the promulgation of regulation 27 of the level 4 regulations as soon as reasonably possible;
  1. The costs of part A of our application are reserved for determination in part B of the application;

The above concessions by the Respondents, although belated, ought to be welcomed by all. They also then mean that there no longer exists a reason for us to argue part A of our court application as we have been provided with a substantial portion of the relief we sought from the courts by the Respondents. The issues dealt with therein therefore require no further ventilation.

Despite the aforegoing concessions, we will now turn our focus to the relief sought in part B of our application, including confirmation by a court of law that the sale of tobacco products and cigarettes is lawful under the lockdown regulations.

In an effort to expedite the matter, the respective legal representatives of both parties are currently working on a timetable to have part B of our court application heard as soon as reasonably possible. Clarity on this will be given in due course. The public at large must be mindful of the fact that a number of documents need to be exchanged prior to the matter being ventilated in court.

We have full confidence in our legal system, and we are of the view that once this matter is properly ventilated, a just outcome will result. We will therefore relentlessly pursue part B of our Application.

We wish to again thank the many South Africans who have wished us well and continue to support our cause.

Issued by Fair-trade Independent Tobacco Association Chairperson: Sinenhlanhla Mnguni

11 May 2020

For queries kindly contact Monique Vogel t: 072 720 7919; e: Monique@fita.co.za

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