Watch Patricia De Lille on her disciplinary hearing
19 March 2018, 8:08 PM
Food company Tiger Brand braces for class action lawsuit
19 March 2018, 7:14 PM
Embattled South African food company Tiger Brands on Monday, said that it would take steps to consider and address any valid claims which may be made against it over the deaths of more than 180 people due to the outbreak of food-borne disease, Listeriosis.
On Friday, Tiger Brands was served with an application for an order declaring the constitution of two classes for claims — the first comprising all people who consumed a processed meat product manufactured by the company and who became ill as a result of such food product being contaminated with Listeria any time between 1 May 2017 to the date of issue of summons in a class action to be brought.
The second class comprises the dependants of such persons. The total amount claimed against Tiger Brands and its subsidiary Enterprise Foods is estimated at R425 million.
Tiger Brands has closed its food manufacturing plants in Polokwane and Germiston after it received independent laboratory testing results that confirmed the presence of ST6 strain of Listeria monocytogenes in the physical plant environment at the Enterprise Foods Factories.
On Monday, the company decided to recall to include all products at the Pretoria facility of its Value Added Meat Products (VAMP) brand, after similar earlier moves at its Polokwane and Germiston plants over a listeriosis outbreak.
Tiger Brands chief executive, Lawrence MacDougall, estimated the cost of the recalls and suspension of production at the Polokwane, Germiston, Pretoria and Clayville sites, including the cost of destruction of the affected products, raw materials and work in progress, was between R337 million and R377 million on a pre-tax basis.
“Although no link has, as yet, been confirmed between the presence of LST6 at our Polokwane plant and the loss of life, I deeply regret any loss of life and I want to offer my heartfelt condolences to all those who have lost their loved ones. Any loss of life, no matter the circumstance, is tragic,” MacDougall said.
“We acknowledge that we are dealing with a national crisis and want to assure the public that in the event that a tangible link is established between our products and listeriosis illnesses or fatalities. Tiger Brands will take steps to consider and address any valid claims which may be made against it in due course.”
The Department of Health has reported that people have lost their lives as a result of Listeriosis and that 90 percent of these are as a result of LST6.
MacDougall said that they were investing all their time and energy into not only understanding the cause of the LST6 detection, but also how it could have come into their facility.
He said that the company was working with a team comprising some of the world’s leading local and international scientific experts in listeria management in a bid to improve quality, safety and internal controls.
“Local and international experts are helping us put measures in place to prevent this happening again in any of our meat processing facilities. While every effort is being made to get to the bottom of this outbreak it will take time to complete our investigation,” MacDougall said.
“Our Polokwane, Germiston and Pretoria factories are undergoing an extensive deep clean of all the equipment, machinery and some structural upgrades of the facilities with the view of ensuring that our facilities exceed the highest, best practice standards for meat processing facilities. We will continue to work closely with the Capricorn and Ekurhuleni Departments of Health as we progress with these remedial actions.”
Judge Moseneke delivers Life Esidimeni report
19 March 2018, 5:03 PM
After landslide re-election, Russia’s Putin tells West: I don’t want arms race
19 March 2018, 4:55 PM
Russian President Vladimir Putin struck a softer tone towards the West on Monday after winning his biggest ever election victory, saying he had no desire for an arms race and would do everything he could to resolve differences with other countries.
Putin’s victory, which comes at a time when his relations with the West are on a hostile trajectory, will extend his political dominance of Russia by six years to 2024. That will make him the longest-serving ruler since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and has raised Western fears of spiralling confrontation.
But Putin, 65, used a Kremlin meeting with the candidates he soundly defeated in Sunday’s election to signal his desire to focus on domestic, not international, matters, and to try to raise living standards by investing more in education, infrastructure and health while reducing defence spending.
“Nobody plans to accelerate an arms race,” said Putin.
“We will do everything to resolve all the differences with our partners using political and diplomatic channels.”
His comments, which are likely to be heard with some scepticism in the West following years of confrontation, mark a change in tone after a bellicose election campaign during which Putin unveiled new nuclear weapons he said could strike almost any point in the world..
Russia is currently at odds with the West over Syria and Ukraine; allegations of cyber attacks and meddling in foreign elections; and the poisoning in Britain of a former Russian spy and his daughter. As a result, relations with the West have hit a post-Cold-War low.
FREE AND FAIR?
With nearly 100 percent of the votes counted, the Central Election Commission (CEC), announced that Putin, who has run Russia as president or prime minister since 1999, had won 76.69 percent of the vote.
With more than 56 million votes, it was Putin’s biggest ever win and the largest by any post-Soviet Russian leader.
But the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a rights watchdog, said restrictions on fundamental freedoms, as well as on candidate registration, had restricted the scope for political engagement and crimped competition.
“Choice without real competition, as we have seen here, is not real choice,” the OSCE said in a statement.
The CEC said earlier on Monday it had not registered any serious complaints of violations.
Backed by state TV and the ruling party, and credited with an approval rating of around 80 percent, Putin faced no credible threat from a field of seven challengers.
His nearest rival, Communist Party candidate Pavel Grudinin, won 11.8 percent while nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky got 5.6 percent. His most vocal opponent, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, was barred from running.
Navalny, who had called on voters to boycott the election, urged his supporters not to lose heart and said his campaign had succeeded in lowering the turnout, accusing authorities of being forced to falsify the numbers.
Near-final figures put turnout at 67.7 percent, just shy of the 70 percent the Kremlin was reported to have been aiming for before the vote.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov played down suggestions that tensions with the West had boosted turnout, saying the result showed that Russians were united behind Putin’s plans to develop the country.
He said Putin would spend the day fielding calls of congratulation, meeting supporters, and holding talks with the losing candidates.
Chinese President Xi Jinping was among the first to offer his congratulations to Putin, but Heiko Maas, Germany’s new foreign minister, questioned whether there had been fair political competition.
French President Emmanuel Macron was one of the few Western leaders to speak by telephone to Putin on Monday, wishing Russia and its people success in modernising the country.
How long Putin wants to stay in power remains uncertain.
The constitution limits the president to two successive terms, obliging him to step down at the end of his new mandate.
Asked after his re-election if he would run for yet another term in the future, Putin laughed off the idea.
“Let’s count. What, do you think I will sit (in power) until I’m 100 years old?” he said, calling the question “funny”.
Although Putin has six years to consider a possible successor, uncertainty about his future is a potential source of instability in a fractious ruling elite that only he can keep in check.
“The longer he stays in power, the harder it will be to exit,” said Andrei Kolesnikov, senior fellow at the Carnegie Moscow Center, a think-tank. “How can he abandon such a complicated system, which is essentially his personal project?”