Tobacco farmers are overjoyed with the recent Court of Appeal ruling where the Minister of COGTA’s appeal application was rejected with costs, but the financial damage they suffered can be difficult to overcome. Tobacco-producing districts showed huge job losses and thousands of families were deprived of income.
“The court found that the minister had infringed on four of the five constitutional rights on which we relied and then also found that four of the major reasons for her restrictions in terms of art. 36 of the Constitution was not valid,” says Francois Rossouw, CEO of Saai.
No one in the legal tobacco industry doubted that the ban on tobacco products was unconstitutional, absurd and dramatically crushing for the economy and job opportunities but the passage of time in law has caused great uncertainty and mistrust in the industry. “The only people who benefited from this ban were those who were involved in the illegal trade in cigarettes,” says Dr Theo de Jager, executive chairperson of Saai.
Saai is currently investigating the possibility of claiming damages on behalf of processors, producers and workers.