During a briefing last night, April 2, Minister of Police Bheki Cele said in no uncertain terms that the sale of cigarettes was completely banned during lockdown. This, after Western Cape Premier Alan Winde announced that the province would allow cigarette sales in conjunction with other items.
“These regulations, as they are signed by minister Dlamini-Zuma, are national regulations. There are no provincial regulations. There are no municipal regulations. So, what is done in Limpopo is expected to be done in Western Cape,” Said Cele.
This has led to significant confusion for those in the Western Cape, with citizens reporting that some stores adhering to national policy while others to the most recent provincial messaging.
According to EWN, The Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs said that it would speak to the Western Cape government about its decision to allow the sale of cigarettes.
According to Cogta’s Lungi Mtshali, the Western Cape provincial government had not consulted the necessary channels before making the announcement.
Winde however, said that while the alcohol ban was clear, other products were not quite as explicit.
The country’s confusion was also expressed on social media:
South Africa in general has a drinking and smoking problem. Forcing people to stay at home whilst under the same breathe, you allow them to go buy cigarettes, especially in hotspot areas such as the Western Cape, is counter-intuitive. We cant afford to relax critical restrictions
— Sibabalo Mtonga (@Sibzmantic) April 2, 2020
Wait whaaaat so in the Western Cape one can buy cigarettes when buying essentials? What about other provinces? Or That’s another country I’m too forward? #COVID19SouthAfrica pic.twitter.com/DKm3BNYioz
— Lebogang (@nale_lebogang) April 2, 2020
Added to this, a draconian ban of cigarettes during a national lockdown is neither an effective nor a humane way to manage addiction – effectively a mental health condition that requires professional support and intervention.
— Kevin (@dawgfath3r) April 3, 2020
Confusion regarding certain regulations has been rife during the first week of lockdown. From changes to transport allowances for taxis to funeral arrangements, the national government have at times struggled to keep the exact requirements straight.