Coronavirus in SA: Lifting lockdown ban on alcohol sales not in public’s interest, says EFF

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Johannesburg – The EFF has joined the legal wrangling against the government’s ban on alcohol sales during the national lockdown. 
The party has been outspoken for days about the government remaining committed to the ban on alcohol sales. The party has now sent an official letter from its lawyers to President Cyril Ramaphosa arguing their stance against any possible changes to the ban. 
The party’s concerns were largely based on legal threats by the Gauteng liquor authority, which claims to represent about 20 000 shebeens and taverns in the province. The organisation has given the president until Tuesday to reconsider the ban on alcohol sales or they would approach the court. 
They have highlighted sales and profit concerns as a reason for Ramaphosa to lift the ban. 
But the EFF does not agree with the reasons provided. The party said, in its letter to Ramaphosa, that it was not in the public interest for the ban to be lifted. The party’s lawyer Angelike Charalambous argued that if alcohol was allowed to be sold that would lead to shebeens and taverns being open and would defeat the purpose of a lockdown. 
It would also be difficult to enforce the lockdown if people had consumed alcohol, the party argued. 
Alcohol centred businesses were not the only ones burdened with the effects of a national lockdown and that many small businesses were affected, it said. 
“It is not fair to other small businesses to lift the ban solely for alcohol distributors. Many other small businesses are suffering due to the lockdown such as hair salons, car washes and many other sole proprietors.
“Our client is concerned that that the upliftment, removal or amendment of the regulation banning the sale of alcohol take place, a pandora’s box will be opened and all small non-essential businesses will attempt to jump on the wagon,” Charalambous said.

* For the latest on the Covid-19 outbreak, visit IOL’s special #Coronavirus page.

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By Zintle Mahlati


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