British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) on Friday announce that it would begin urgent legal proceedings to challenge the government’s continued ban on tobacco sales during the coronavirus lockdown.
BATSA’s head of external affairs, Johnny Moloto, said that the continued ban was threatening the survival of the legal tobacco sector as well as livelihoods of those it employs.
“The ban has only succeeded in significantly growing a massive and nationwide illegal industry at the direct expense of law-abiding businesses, citizens and taxpayers,” Moloto said in a statement.
He added that the treasury was losing about 2 million dollars in excise taxes every day the ban continued.
South African Revenue Service Commissioner, Edward Kieswetter estimated that more than 80 million dollars had been lost due to illicit trade in alcohol and cigarettes during the lockdown.
South Africa has earned praise for its rapid response to the pandemic, but also criticism of its strict regulations and brutal enforcement by the police and army.
South Africa had 27,403 confirmed cases by Thursday, of which 14,370 have recovered and 577 have died.(dpa/NAN)