Ebrahim Patel: Essential goods include baby clothes

The government on Thursday clarified that “essential goods” include baby clothes and blankets.

This follows an urgent application to the Constitutional Court by two nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), the Tebeila Institute of Leadership, Education, Governance and Training and the African Institute for Human Rights and Constitutional Litigation. The application was dismissed by the highest court, which said it was not in the interests of justice to grant direct access.

However, in a media release today, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has attempted to provide clarity.

In the statement, Patel says that, “products for the care of babies and toddlers” are already considered essential goods under the lockdown regulations.

“Following requests for clarification, we confirm that this provision includes baby clothes, blankets, towels and other essential accessories for newborns, infants and toddlers up to 36 months old,” he said.

However, it seems that only stores that are already allowed to be open to sell other essential goods will be allowed to open their aisles for baby clothes: “To ensure the effectiveness of the lockdown in containing the spread of Covid-19, all stores that are currently permitted to remain open for the sale of other essential goods, including supermarkets, may, therefore, sell these products.”

The statement does not clarify whether stores that sell only baby goods are now allowed to open. Nor is it clear whether essential goods include car seats, prams and baby beds — some of the questions raised by the NGOs that approached the Constitutional Court.

Patel, however, said that the government had discussed the pricing of baby items with the chief executives of large retailers: “We have been in contact with the CEOs of the large retailers, who have undertaken to sell these products at prices that simply cover their basic costs of production and distribution for the period of the lockdown. Hospitals and clinics may directly procure these products as necessary to provide for the infants in their care.”

The Constitutional Court’s order said its decision was taken in view of the facts that the regulations provided that essential goods already included baby products and because the NGOs had failed to try other options before approaching the highest court.

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Franny Rabkin
Franny Rabkin
Franny is the legal reporter at the Mail & Guardian

High Court strikes down ‘paternalistic’ lockdown regulations

The order of unconstitutionality has been suspended for two weeks

L’Oréal workers demand a shutdown of local plant, citing Covid-19...

The French cosmetics company’s Midrand plant has recorded 16 Covid-19 cases in two weeks

Protective equipment for schools in KwaZulu-Natal goes ‘missing’

Without protective equipment, schools in uMlazi, Pinetown and Zululand won’t meet the already delayed deadline for reopening

Press Releases

Empowering his people to unleash their potential

'Being registered as an AGA(SA) means you are capable of engineering an idea and turning it into money,' says Raymond Mayekisa

What is an AGA(SA) and AT(SA) and why do they matter?

If your company has these qualified professionals it will help improve efficiencies and accelerate progress by assisting your organisation to perform better

Mining company uses rich seam of technology to gear up for Covid-19

Itec Direct technology provides instant temperature screening of staff returniing to the workplace with no human contact

Covid-19 and Back to School Webinar

If our educators can take care of themselves, they can take care of the children they teach

5G technology is the future

Besides a healthcare problem Covid-19 is also a data issue and 5G technology, with its lightning speed, can help to curb its spread

JTI off to court for tobacco ban: Government not listening to industry or consumers

The tobacco ban places 109 000 jobs and 179 000 wholesalers and retailers at risk — including the livelihood of emerging farmers

Holistic Financial Planning for Professionals Webinar

Our lives are constantly in flux, so it makes sense that your financial planning must be reviewed frequently — preferably on an annual basis

Undeterred by Covid-19 pandemic, China and Africa hold hands, building a community of a shared future for mankind

It is clear that building a community with a shared future for all mankind has become a more pressing task than ever before

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday