Cape Town - The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it expects Bell Pottinger to be sanctioned by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) after a deadline for clearing the prominent UK-based PR firm that worked for the Gupta family of violating professional codes passed.
"We have now received confirmation that our complaint stands, and Bell Pottinger will now be given five days to appeal the PRCA’s decision if it so chooses," DA spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said on Thursday.
She said if the complaint had not been upheld by the PRCA's Professional Practices Committee, this decision would have been made public by Thursday.
A statement on the PRCA's website, confirms this scenario. It sets out the alternative as the complaint being upheld with disciplinary sanction and Bell Pottinger being given five working days to appeal the decision.
"If an appeal is made, the PRCA Board of Management will consider the report of the Professional Practices Committee alongside the appeal and will approve, amend, or overrule the decision of the committee. The PRCA will then publish the decision on week beginning 4th September," the PRCA said.
It said it would not comment on the process while it was ongoing.
Van Damme said the DA was now awaiting its decision, in the belief that strong sanction was in order against the firm that represented the Gupta family and its business empire and allegedly popularised the divisive political catch phrase "white monopoly capital".
"During its work for Oakbay Capital, the Gupta family and the President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, Bell Pottinger exploited the already sensitive race relations in South Africa, and a strong message must be sent to the PRCA that unethical conduct by its members will not be tolerated.
"We trust that a strong sanction will be given against Bell Pottinger.
"We reiterate our call for Bell Pottinger to do the right thing and disclose all Gupta contracts and monies from their accounts with the Guptas and reinvest it into South Africa. "
Bell Pottinger was accused by the DA of fomenting racial division in South Africa by spreading false claims against white captains of industry and former finance minister Pravin Gordhan to divert attention from mounting allegations of state capture by the Gupta family.
The company last month fired partner Victoria Geoghegan, who lead the Gupta account, and three other employees and apologised for having run an "inappropriate" media campaign on behalf of Oakbay. It had terminated its contract with the Guptas in April.
Possible sanctions include suspension or termination of its membership of the PRCA.
The complaint was heard on August 18.
Bell Pottinger has lost several big South African clients, among them Richemont. The luxury goods company is headed by Johann Rupert, who was allegedly among those targeted to draw attention away from the Guptas.