‘Supreme Court grants bread warriors leave to appeal’
Joint Media Statement issued by Black Sash, Children’s Resources Centre, COSATU (Western Cape) and the National Consumer Forum
For immediate release: Wednesday, 30 November 2011
We are delighted that the Supreme Court has granted 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. 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.
We petitioned the Supreme Court of Appeal in September after Acting Western Cape High Court Judge Francois Van Zyl ruled that we were not allowed to represent bread consumers in the province in a class action against the big bread producers. Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager Nkosikhulule Nyembezi says today’s decision has strengthened their determination to fight for compensation on behalf of the millions of consumers who have suffered as a result of corrupt and corrosive business practices. “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 they will now consult with community organisations affected by the case and file their notice to appeal by the 30th of January as requested. “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 in 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