Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced earlier this month that processed food manufacturers Enterprise, owned by Tiger Brands and Rainbow Chicken Limited, had been issued with safety recall notices after the Enterprise food production facility in Polokwane, Limpopo, had been identified as the source of the current outbreak.
In a statement, the non-profit organisation said it would be opening a criminal docket against the board of Tiger Brands and had called on them to step aside pending the outcome of investigations.
“We have also called on Tiger Brands to fund the civil claim against them and, if they refuse, to make sure civil society steps in to help them,” the statement read.
They have appealed to victims or family members of people thought to have died from the infection to complete a contact form.
“We will be opening a criminal docket in respect of 61 counts of murder, in the alternative culpable homicide, and 557 counts of attempted murder in the alternative, assault occasioning actual bodily harm or grievous bodily harm.
“The figures... have been derived from our discussions with the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), as directly attributable to Tiger Brands’ Enterprise products. We expect the figures to increase as investigations continue.”
The organisation said it was inconceivable that if proper quality control systems were followed, a listeriosis outbreak of such proportions would have been possible.
Meanwhile, the NICD said that since its last update on March 8, 11 additional cases had been reported to the institute. A total of 978 cases had been reported since 2017.
“Cases of listeriosis will continue to occur up to four weeks or longer after the recall of the implicated foodstuffs, as the incubation period for listeriosis can be as long as 21 days, with a reported maximum of 70 days,” it said.
Tiger Brands did not re- spond to requests for comment by the time of publication.
For more information, visit www.forensicsforjustice.org
Families of victims can call a toll-free contact centre at 0800 118 118. Victims or their families can also email [email protected]