Joint Media Statement issued by Black Sash, Children’s Resources Centre, COSATU (Western Cape) and the National Consumer Forum
For immediate release: Monday, 29 August 2011
We are disappointed but not deterred by today’s decision to refuse us leave to appeal an earlier ruling denying us a ‘class certification order’ in our lawsuit against the three bread giants found guilty of price-fixing. We remain committed and determined to pursue our battle for compensation against Pioneer Foods, Tiger Consumer Brands and Premier Foods despite Acting Judge Francois Van Zyl’s decision to deny us the opportunity to represent bread consumers in the Western Cape. Millions of people have suffered as a result of their corrupt and corrosive business practices and we will now petition the Supreme Court of Appeal to hear this matter. We are confident that a higher court may arrive at a different decision.
The Children’s Resources Centre, Black Sash, COSATU (Western Cape), the National Consumer Forum and five individual bread consumers filed their original application to represent consumers in November last year after the three bread giants were found guilty by the Competition Commission of taking part in a cartel that fixed the price of bread.
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Nkosikhulule Nyembezi says today’s ruling only strengthens their determination. “The fines handed down by the Competition authorities do not act as sufficient deterrents to big companies making massive profits. Importantly, these administrative penalties don’t compensate those who’ve actually suffered as a result of their corruption. By acting collectively, we as consumers can hold these companies to account and make them pay for the damage and loss they have caused us,” explains Nyembezi.
Co-ordinator of Children’s Resources Centre Marcus Solomon says it was morally abhorrent that these bread producers profited illegally from the sale of a staple food. “Their ongoing collusive activities robbed millions of poor and vulnerable families on a daily basis and over many years. By doing so, they undermined our society's attempts to realise the Constitutional right to food and adequate nourishment, especially for children.” says Solomon.
COSATU Western Cape Regional Organiser, Mike Louw, says overcharging for bread over so many years hit poor households really hard. “These families are sometimes spending over half their income on food and often buy two or three loaves of bread a day as part of their efforts to sustain themselves on meagre incomes. The accumulative damage of inflated bread prices is devastating, especially on a country battling to cope with such high levels of poverty and unemployment,” explains Louw.
For interview requests, please contact:
Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager
Cell: 082-429 4719
Co-ordinator of Children’s Resources Centre
Cell: 072 468 2156
Chairperson of the National Consumer Forum
Cell: 083-679 9489
Cosatu Western Cape Regional Organiser
Cell: 082-339 5443