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Vinpro pledges to continue fight as court case starts

Published:  23 August, 2021

Vinpro has pledged to continue its fight to help fully reopen and rebuild the SA wine industry.

The pledge comes as the court case, whereby Vinpro is set to contest the approach followed by government towards alcohol ban restrictions, is set down for hearing in the Western Cape High Court from today (23 to 26 August 2021).

Three particular points will be argued from today onwards, including Vinpro’s structure of government argument, an interim application asking to take evidence regarding the third wave into account, as well as the issue of mootness since the ban has been partially lifted.

“Since the start of this pandemic we have argued that the provinces, not national government, should decide whether or not to impose liquor restrictions and should do so with reference to provincial circumstances, including the need to preserve capacity in trauma units in hospitals in the province,” said Vinpro MD Rico Basson. 

“We know provinces are affected differently by the pandemic, therefore we believe a differentiated approach in handling the crisis is needed to limit the economic impact of a lockdown.”

Vinpro launched its legal application during the second wave in January this year and has now also approached the court to include evidence for the way in which the blanket liquor ban missed its purpose during the third wave.

“While we have challenged government’s decision by way of an urgent interdict application and hearing on 21 July 2021, the matter was subsequently rendered academic because the ban was partially lifted four days later. In an interim application we now ask that this evidence should also be taken into account,” said Basson.

Vinpro said national government’s respondents had “vehemently opposed” the application to introduce such further evidence, stating the opposition was mainly based on government’s argument that Vinpro’s application was moot, since the ban had been lifted.

“However, we have seen how government has dealt with the previous liquor bans. A blanket ban is imposed repeatedly and with a fourth wave likely to hit the country in December, this issue most certainly is not moot,” said Vinpro.

Basson added: “Wine is part of agriculture, as is tourism. Our industry supports 80,183 people working at farm and cellar level and 188,913 people working further down the wine value chain.

“This industry has built a strong brand reputation as a unique asset for the country. The South African wine industry is more than a drink, it’s a livelihood. And it is our responsibility to make sure we save this industry for future generations.”

Vinpro launched an urgent interim interdict application to lift the ban on the sale of wine in the Western Cape in a bid to seek interim relief for wine businesses at the end of June following South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing a total ban on the sale of alcohol for the fourth time since the start of the pandemic.