/ 30 November 2007

Govt faces R5-billion lawsuit after condom scandal

Three condom suppliers, the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel face a R5-billion class-action lawsuit over defective condoms the Health Department distributed earlier this year, the Sowetan reported on Friday.

Mathibela James Ramahuma and 49 999 other unnamed plaintiffs are each demanding compensation of R100 000, the newspaper said.

Claims have been served on the Health Department, the Finance Department and the SABS, said attorney Gilford Malatji, who is bringing the action.

The condom suppliers and manufacturers Zalatex, Latex Surgical Products and Kohrs Medical Suppliers appear on the summons as the first, second and third respondents, the paper said.

The SABS appears as the fourth respondent.

The Sowetan broke the story of the defective condoms in August and reported then that an SABS inspector, Sphiwe Fikizolo, had been accused of taking bribes to pass defective condoms.

Fikizolo is named as the fifth respondent in the suit, the health minister as the sixth and the finance minister as the seventh.

Malatji told the Sowetan that he had served the notices of the legal proceedings on the SABS, and the Departments of Health and Finance earlier this eek.

He said the defendants had 30 days to respond to the Pretoria High Court if they wanted to defend themselves against the lawsuit.

Zalatex, LSP and Kohrs would be served with papers before the end of this week, he told the newspaper. – Sapa