BATSA withdraws legal action on cigarette sale ban
Written by YFM News on 6th May 2020
British American Tobacco South Africa has resolved to abandon its legal action against government over the extension of the ban on the sale of tobacco products into level 4.
In a statement on Wednesday BATSA spokesperson Johnny Moloto revealed that it reconsidered its position after receiving a formal response to its letter sent on 30 April from the Covid-19 National Command Council (CNCC).
“Having considered the response from the National Command Council and noting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public statement on Monday 4 May, as a business we have taken a decision not to pursue legal action at this stage but instead pursue further discussions with government on the formulation and application of the regulations under the Covid 19 lockdown,” said Moloto.
He added that the company is convinced that by working together they can find a better solution that works for all South Africans and removes the threat of criminal sanction for the 11 million tobacco consumers in the country.
He further stated that the significant rise of the illicit trade of tobacco products during the lockdown is of concern as it threatens the livelihoods of those who operate legitimate businesses.
“The illicit traders are the only beneficiaries of the ban on tobacco sales, before the Covid-19 crisis the various restrictions imposed by the South African government and new leadership in SARS under commissioner Edward Kieswetter had begun to make progress in tackling the rampant illegal trade in cigarettes which was costing the South African economy more than 10 billion rands a year,” he said.
The decision to extend the ban has sparked debate among citizens with some contending that they should be permitted to purchase cigarettes because they are already in circulation on the black market.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the issue in his weekly newsletter, explaining that they continuously consult medical experts as well as various constituencies before arriving at any decision.
The president also used the platform to caution against attributing government decisions to individuals after some accused Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma of unilaterally overturning the presidents 23 April announcement that cigarette sales would be permitted during level 4.