Zikalala rejects move to ban KwaSizabantu products, says those found guilty will be brought to book
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Durban - KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala has established a high-level task team to look into allegations levelled against management at the KwaSizabantu Mission.
He has also urged retailers to wait until the investigation is wrapped up and those found guilty are brought to book, before pulling items supplied by the mission from their shelves.
According to reports, Woolworths and Spar have cut ties with the mission, which supplies aQuellé bottled water as well as fruit and vegetables to some of the country's biggest retail stores.
Zikalala said the task team includes senior officials from the Premier's office as well as Deputy-Director General Dr Fikile Ndlovu.
The delegation visited the mission and inspected a number of projects earlier this week.
Speaking during a media briefing on Sunday, Zikalala said he had noted with great concern the emergence of allegations of improper conduct and victimisation of members of the community at KwaSizabantu Mission in Kranskop.
"As part of our commitment to the protection of basic human rights, we have appointed a team led by Human Settlements MEC Peggy Nkonyeni, as the MEC Champion of the District, to work with all stakeholders, especially government to establish fact and assist the ongoing investigation. We have also pledged our full support to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities Commission, as a Chapter Nine institution, which is on the ground, leading the investigation," he said.
Zikalala reassured the public that if the allegations are proven to be true, then those responsible will have to be dealt with following the prescripts of the law.
"We will do that without fear or favour, offenders must always face disciplinary action or prosecution in this regard. We plead with all involved to cooperate with the processes and the commission which is leading these investigations and tell the truth," he said.
However, Zikalala said the ban on products from KwaSizabantu by some of retailers is unfair and misinformed.
He said it was wrong for retailers to ban products while the investigation is ongoing.
"More importantly, most of the alleged human rights abuses seem to have happened some time ago. The worst to come is the devastating effect of loss of jobs and then the perpetuation of poverty in the area. As the provincial government we will seek to engage with all retailers who have taken the decision to ban the KwaSizabantu products," Zikalala added.
He pleaded with retailers to withdraw the ban and allow for the investigation and prosecution to unfold.
"For us this is important. KwaSizabantu. We want to be fair to all as we have seen in other institutions, they don’t ban products but investigate and hold those found to be on the wrong side of the law accountable," the Premier said.