PHOTO: South Africa's Minister of Health Aaron Motsoaledi briefs journalists at a meeting with SADC health ministries in Kempton Park. PHOTO: Getrude Makhafola

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi on Thursday, said he was happy that a class action was being brought against Tiger Brands' Enterprise Foods on behalf of victims from the deadly listeria bacteria in South Africa.

Motsoaledi said although penalties are imposed on companies by authorities, that does not help affected families in anyway.

"I am happy that there is a company from the [United States of America] USA that is taking this matter up, we welcome that. Such lawsuits has happened in America many times, where listeria outbreaks happen almost every year,'' he said.

Human rights lawyer, Richard Spoor announced this week that he was is teaming up with USA food safety law firm Marler Clark to launch law suites on behalf of victims' families. 

Spoor is known for his work on workers' rights and safety, especially his class suit against mine companies on behalf of victims of silicosis.

READ MORE: SA to back anyone pursuing legal action in listeria outbreak

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) also announced last week that its lawyers would file class action lawsuit on behalf of families who lost their loved ones to listeria.

Motsoaledi said disposing the food products was not the end of combating listeria. He added that a national emergency centre was being established at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) premises to deal with possible new listeria infections.

''The fact that we have found the source of the outbreak is not the end, it is the beginning of a long process. We can expect other cases to emerge, especially taking into consideration that someone in Namibia consumed the product and ended up with listeria.''

''The state does not produce food, companies do...and some of these companies have laboratories on site because municipalities do not have capacity when it comes to food safety inspection.''

African News Agency/ANA