The Gaborone High Court has dismissed the application of Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) on the urgency to set aside the government’s decision to impose an indefinite ban on alcohol.
The court said the matter was not urgent and that there was nothing that forces the courts to expedite the process and therefore the case should follow normal course. The country’s leading brewer and distributor of alcohol had had argued that the case was of national and public interest because it was not only dealing with a commercial matter where KBL incurred losses because of the ban but also livelihoods of people affected by the ban, including approximately 50,000 people directly and indirectly employed by the alcohol industry and the over 200 000 livelihoods involved in the extensive value chain of the alcohol industry.
The government, KBL added, has lost much-needed tax amounting to approximately P217.6 million because of the ban. It raised constitutionality of the ban as an issue, arguing that its constitutional rights and of those who have direct and substantial interests in the matter are being trampled upon.
KBL said its right to trade, the right of its employees to work and earn full wages, and the right of its consumers’ choice to imbibe alcohol as they wish – at their preferred place whether residential or at an establishment that trades in alcohol – were being abused.
Significantly, KBL said it does not believe that there is scientific evidence that there is a colossal link between consumption of alcohol and an increase in positive COVID-19 cases.
Representing the state, Monthe Marumo (incorporating Molathegi and Associates) argued against urgency of the matter, saying the applicant had always known that the ban would come becuase it has happened from time to time, specifically three times before this particular one.
Marumo challenged KBL to demonstrate that their constitutional rights are being violated because the courts do not work on assumptions but on facts.