Fuel company slams racist email campaign

By Barbara Cole Time of article published Nov 17, 2006

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Engen Petroleum Limited on Thursday refuted the "malicious" contents of an email smear campaign, which is now being further circulated via cellphone texting.

There is "absolutely no truth" to the allegations that the oil company will no longer sell its dealerships to whites, a statement said on Thursday.

The email, which was initially in Afrikaans and more recently in English, "alleged that Engen management had taken a decision not to sell any of its service stations to white people in the future and called on all whites to boycott Engen Service Stations," said Tania Landsberg, the company's spokesperson.

She said that the company did not engage in any business practices that could potentially destroy value in the company and prided itself on being ethical, fair and transparent.

"Engen is committed to a programme of black economic empowerment and a significant number of appointments have been made on this basis in line with the national agenda," she said.

Engen sites were much sought after and applications for dealerships were received from all population groups "and just over 24 percent of service stations that were sold in the last six months have gone to new white owners. No one is excluded."

Landsberg said that it was very difficult to say what the motive was behind the unfounded rumours.

The emails started three weeks ago and are now being spread by cellphone texting, the company said. Although it would be difficult to track down who started the campaign, Engen was "looking into it".

The company had fielded many queries from people asking about the smear campaign.

"It's heartening that there have been so many people who want to find out the true position for themselves," she said.

There had been no decline in business, "which is indicative of the support Engen continues to enjoy thanks to its loyal, level-headed and proudly South African customer base."

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