Government dealt another major blow in legal battle over cigarette ban

It’s been a week, that’s for sure. The government has had their lockdown policies chewed up and spat out by the High Court, and for the third time in the last few days, Cabinet’s representatives have been dealt another blow to their legal ambitions – and it’s all to do with the controversial cigarette ban.

It was confirmed on Thursday evening that the government had failed to secure a postponement in their battle with the Fair-Trade Independent Tobacco Association (FITA). This is the second time the state has been unsuccessful in trying push the hearing back, and it tops off an exhausting string of defeats.

Cigarette ban latest – government told to face the music

On Tuesday, the entire set of lockdown regulations were declared invalid, sending shockwaves across South Africa. The cigarette ban, however, was left out of the verdict. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma was slapped with a cost order and told to rewrite the restrictions in a manner that stays true to the country’s Bill of Rights.

The day after that – in the same courtroom, no less – it was ruled that the state could not put people into mandatory quarantine facilities, quashing one of the government’s flagship responses to the crisis.

All up in smoke for Dlamini-Zuma and co

So by the time Judge President Dunstan Mlambo dismissed their attempt to postpone a showdown with FITA over the cigarette ban next week, their losing streak had gained the momentum of a runaway freight train.

The matter is now expected to be heard next Tuesday and Wednesday (9-10 June), at the Pretoria High Court. Dlamini-Zuma and her colleagues had asked for more time to submit supplementary affidavits but inexplicably missed the 3 June deadline. Despite making late submissions on Thursday, it hasn’t been enough to convince the courts that the government should get more time to explain their cigarette ban.

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