Here is how Vinpro’s court case could see all alcohol restrictions in SA scrapped

24 August 2021 - 12:00 By unathi nkanjeni
The four bans placed on liquor sales during the Covid-19 pandemic have cost the country’s GDP an estimated R64.8bn. Stock photo.
The four bans placed on liquor sales during the Covid-19 pandemic have cost the country’s GDP an estimated R64.8bn. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ROSTISLAYSDLACEK

Court action launched by wine representative body Vinpro is being heard in the Western Cape High Court to contest the liquor ban restrictions.

Vinpro, which represents close to 2,600 SA wine producers, cellars and industry stakeholders, announced on Monday that the hearing has been set down for four days.

Vinpro MD Rico Basson said the wine industry has had to endure setbacks over the past 17 months due to the bans.

“Since the start of this pandemic we have argued that the provinces, not national government, should decide whether to impose liquor restrictions and should do so with reference to provincial circumstances, including the need to preserve capacity in trauma units in hospitals in the province,” said Basson.

“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.”

According to the SA Liquor Brand owners Association (Salba), the four bans placed on liquor sales during the Covid-19 pandemic have cost the country’s GDP an estimated R64.8bn.

The R64.8bn excluded the cost of recent looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. More than R500m liquor stock was looted during violence and destruction in the provinces.

Basson said Vinpro’s legal application was launched during the second wave of Covid-19 infections in January, and it has also approached the court to include evidence of how the blanket liquor ban missed its purpose during the third wave.

“While we have challenged government’s decision by way of an urgent interdict application and hearing on July 21, the matter was subsequently rendered academic because the ban was partially lifted four days later. In an interim application, we ask that this evidence should also be taken into account,” he said.

According to Basson, the government has opposed the application, arguing Vinpro’s application is irrelevant since the ban has been lifted.

“However, we have seen how government has dealt with the previous liquor bans. A blanket ban is imposed repeatedly and with a fourth wave of infections likely to hit the country in December, this issue most certainly is not moot,” Basson said.

“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 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.” 


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