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SAB heads to court in ‘last resort to protect livelihoods’ over alcohol ban

In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it strongly disagreed with the introduction of yet another outright ban on the sale of alcohol.

FILE: Picture: 123rf.

JOHANNESBURG - South African Breweries (SAB) is approaching the courts to challenge the constitutionality of the third alcohol ban imposed by government.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the alcohol sale ban last month when he placed the country back under an adjusted level 3 lockdown in attempts to curb the spread of COVID-19.

In a statement on Wednesday, the company said it strongly disagreed with the introduction of yet another outright ban on the sale of alcohol.

“SAB believes that any ban, including the current one goes far beyond what is reasonable and necessary to contain the spread of the virus and unlawfully restricts various rights that are enshrined and protected by our constitution. These include the right to freedom of trade, the right to human dignity, privacy, and the right to bodily and psychological integrity.”

SAB said, however, it supported government’s measures fight the virus.

“Challenging the constitutionality of the ban, which removes the South African public’s right as adults to responsibly consume a beer safely in the privacy of their own homes, is an integral part of SAB’s action. The damage to the South African economy and impact on the alcohol value chain arising from ban on the sale of alcohol is, in SAB’s view, disproportional and unlawful. “

WATCH: Sober end to 2020 as alcohol ban is reintroduced

It wants alternatives such as off premises consumption for taverns to be reinstated, saying government did not take into account alternatives it submitted in December.

“SAB firmly believes that the proposed limitations coupled with an earlier curfew, would have been reasonable and effective in supporting the healthcare system and would help to mitigate transmission of the virus while still preserving livelihoods and keeping the economy open.”

The company further said over 165,000 people had already lost their jobs while 100,000 more people moved into poverty as a result of the alcohol bans.

“This legal action is the last resort available to SAB in order to protect our employees, suppliers, customers, consumers and all the livelihoods we support.”

Currently, South Africa has a total of 1 127 759 coronavirus cases and 30,524 deaths.

The national coronavirus command council met on Wednesday morning as experts predict the country is nearing a peak of the second wave.

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