When British American Tobacco South Africa (Batsa) ‘s court hearing is finally heard in the Cape Town Supreme Court in August, it will be six weeks after the urgent court application was initially filed – and more than R1.4 billion in state revenue would be lost that time.
The case would be heard on Tuesday after Batsa’s legal team and the state attorney, on behalf of the Minister of Traditional Affairs and Cooperative Government, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, agreed on this date. The case should now be postponed to the next court term.
Batsa spokeswoman Johnny Moloto said Dlamini-Zuma and Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa admitted in their answering documents that the case was urgent and yet they have suddenly changed their minds and want the case to be heard only in August.
According to Moloto, the delay is a delay of justice that will only boost the illegal cigarette trade.
“The delay of justice in finding a solution to the issue is inexplicable. By the time the case is heard, the ban will have been for four and a half months and billions of rands of illegal cigarettes would have been sold. ”
Batsa and the state filed their last affidavit in the case last week.
According to Moloto, the further six-week delay will cost the state nearly R1.4bn in lost revenue and thousands of jobs could remain in the works.
“We are considering all legal options and are going to speak directly to the government as both parties have agreed in advance that the matter is urgent and should be heard on Tuesday,” he said.
“Postponing a case that both parties agreed is urgent is, in our opinion, unprecedented and extremely worrying.”
A ruling in the Fair Trade Independent Tobacco Association (Fita SA) similar court application has been reserved more than two weeks ago.