The Cape Town High Court will hear British American Tobacco SA’s (Batsa) lawsuit forcing the government to lift the ban on cigarette sales in August.
Batsa’s case against the state was initially heard on Monday, but it was postponed by a week due to a scheduling conflict. However, this will now only be heard on 5 and 6 August.
Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai, said on Friday that the organization appeared in court on behalf of farmers and farmworkers. The case will be heard along with nine other applicants, led by Batsa.
According to Rossouw, at this stage, according to the court, there is no judge available to hear the case earlier.
Saai said the “strange ban” on tobacco trade in South Africa as part of the government’s strategy to combat Covid-19 has plunged hundreds of tobacco farmers and many farm workers into crisis.
“It has destroyed sales opportunities, as well as revenue streams, job opportunities and bread-making in the primary production sector,” Dr. Theo de Jager, Saai’s board chairman, said.
According to Rossouw, farmers have already spent a lot of money on input costs and infrastructure, as well as on salaries for farm workers.
“These costs can only be recovered if farmers can benefit from the proceeds of their tobacco costs. The ban on tobacco products not only limits the chance for farmers to plant in the next season, but also places severe financial pressure on them as most farmers will need further financing to continue their operations, ”he said.
Batsa and the other applicants ask the court to set aside the three-month ban on cigarettes, which was introduced when the country entered a nationwide state of seclusion.