EDITORIAL | Legal clarity on booze bans is vital

Lives and livelihoods need to be saved, so it is imperative a balance is found when it comes to alcohol

07 February 2021 - 18:59 By sunday times daily

It was hard to argue with the government’s logic behind its alcohol sales ban when photos emerged of empty casualty wards on New Year’s Day. It is uncontested: restricting access to alcohol did free up hospital beds during a raging pandemic. Yet it does not mean SA Breweries (SAB) has taken the wrong decision by continuing with its court case against the government. Cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma last week filed more than 1,000 papers in the Western Cape High Court to defend the booze ban, as SAB lawyers insisted the matter went ahead, despite a recent relaxation of restrictions allowing alcohol sales from Mondays to Thursdays. 

SAB said it believed going ahead with the matter was “in the interests of legal certainly and ... to ensure that its continued business operations are not interrupted unnecessarily by further unlawful and unconstitutional prohibitions”. The government argues the prohibitions did not breach any rights in the Bill of Rights and even if a right was limited, this was justifiable...

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