NGOs were delighted Last night after the Supreme Court of Appeal granted them leave to appeal against a ruling that denied them permission for a class action lawsuit against three major bread producers. "This is a significant victory in our battle for compensation against Pioneer Foods, Tiger Consumer Brands and Premier Foods who were found guilty by the Competition Commission of taking part in a cartel that fixed the price of bread," read a joint statement by Black Sash, Cosatu, National Consumer Forum and the Children's Resources Centre.
The statement was issued after their lawyer told them of yesterday's Supreme Court of Appeal's decision. I ast November, Western Cape High Court Acting Judge Francois van Zyl dismissed their application to certify them as the representatives of bread consumers in the province. In May they appealed, but were unsuccessful. "We then petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal in September," Black Sash advocacy programme manager Nkosikhulule Nyembezi said last night. In 2007 the Competition Commission found that the bread companies had colluded in fixing the price of bread for 12 years. Tiger Brands was fined R98 million and Pioneer Foods R195.7m for their parts in the price-thing, while Premier Foods was granted leniency for co-operating with the investigation, launched after shopkeeper Imraahn Mukaddam blew the whistle.
Children's Resources Centre co-ordinator Marcus Solomon said they would consult community organisations and file notice to appeal by January 30. "It was morally abhorrent that these bread producers profited illegally from the sale of a staple food. Their collusive activities robbed millions of poor and vulnerable families daily and over many years. "In doing so, they undermined our society's attempts to realise the constitutional right to food and adequate nourishment, especially for children."