Government welcomes the judgments by the Gauteng and Western Cape High Courts that dismissed both challenges related to the Disaster Management Act and its regulations, the Government Communications and Information Systems (GCIS) says in a statement.
“The Western Cape High Court dismissed an application that sought to challenge the constitutionality of the National Coronavirus Command Council as a subcommittee of Cabinet.”
In a separate case, the North Gauteng High Court dismissed an application brought by the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita) to try and lift the ban on the sale of cigarettes in the country.
In delivering judgment in this matter, Judge President Dunstan Mlambo pointed to Fita’s arguments about the illicit trade in cigarettes, but said when the minister decided to ban the sale of tobacco products, her objective was not to stop every smoker from smoking.
“It was to alleviate the potential devastating burden on the already constrained healthcare system,” he said. “Our view is that the reality of the illicit trade of tobacco products is not fatal to the rationality of the ban.”
Mlambo also said cigarettes could not be deemed essential goods, because they do not, “by their nature, fall into the same category as goods which are life-sustaining or necessary for basic functionality.”
In Friday night’s statement, GCIS Director-General Phumla Williams said: “Government continues to remain steadfast that the ban on cigarette and tobacco product sales was put in place to protect the health of South African citizens as a result of Covid-19.”
Every citizen has a role to play to prevent the spread of the virus and we need to do everything possible to minimize the burden on the already strained healthcare system, GCIS says.
“Government is appealing to all citizens to continue taking steps to protect themselves and others. Practice washing your hands often using soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub. Maintain a safe distance and stay home if you feel unwell.”