During the first COVID wave South Africa was praised for the it’s decisiveness as it quickly introduced a lockdown. Their lockdown order was however not without controversy. The South African government decided to ban the sale of tobacco and alcohol as part of the lockdown measures they introduced last year. These stipulations did not go down well with a lot of people who felt the government was overreaching.

The Western Cape High Court agreed with people who felt this was the case. It passed declared this ban unconstitutional. Prior to the ban being scrapped a number of South African government officials had sought to explain the ban and how it was supposed to help prevent the spread of the deadly respiratory disease. Frankly none of them sounded convincing as it sounded like the government simply wanted to police morals.

The Western Cape high court had declared the ban to be unconstitutional and unnecessary. As already said, government officials had already failed miserably to explain how this ban was supposed to stop the spread of COVID. The court’s ruling found that Minister Dlamini-Zuma and the Coronavirus Command Council had not shown that regulation 45 reduced or acted to reduce the strain on the health care system and therefore should not have formed part of the National Disaster Management Act regulations. Suffice to say no one was really surprised by the judgement.

It’s not even clear why the South African government wants to appeal the ruling to what was a stupid regulation that had clearly little prospect of withstanding scrutiny. The government itself has already been on record saying that they are not seeking for the ban to be reimposed. Not only did the ban serve no purpose but it allowed illicit cigarette sellers to enter and flood the market with imported cigarettes mainly from Zimbabwe. These cigarettes tend to be cheaper and have more nicotine content have captured much of of the market share leaving legitimate businesses struggling.

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