On Thursday morning, an application for a class action lawsuit against Tiger Brands and its subsidiary Enterprise Foods, has been filed in the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg following at least 183 known deaths as a result of the listeria outbreak.
A class action lawsuit is a legal action filed against a defendant by a group of individuals. In this case, Richard Spoor Attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of the people who were infected by listeriosis and the families of those who died. Those who had contracted the disease are thought to have consumed Enterprise products including polony, viennas and russians.
Richard Spoor Attorneys will use 10 applicants as representatives for the affected families who lost loved ones or people who survived listeriosis but may have been permanently injured.
Those who have been affected want Tiger Brands to be found liable for the deaths and injuries caused, and to be compensated.
Richard Spoor previously said: “This looks to us to be an overwhelmingly strong case, it’s like a fingerprint, or the marks on a bullet fired from a gun.”
Tests by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), confirmed the presence of the ST6 strand of the listeria monocytogenes bacteria – which causes listeriosis – at the Tiger Brands Polokwane plant. The ST6 strand has been identified as the source of the current outbreak.
In a press brief at the beginning of March, Tiger Brands CEO Lawrence MacDougall claimed the company is yet to see any evidence linking its meat products directly to the deaths but said there would be a recall all Enterprise products to take “precautions to protect the consumer”.
Tiger Brands has since closed its Polokwane, Germiston and Pretoria sites, saying it would also begin to wind down operations at its Clayville abattoir, in Gauteng. The company hoped to suspend operations there by the end of March.
The abattoir had been the primary meat supplier for the three factories.
Tiger Brands has thus far recorded a loss of almost R400-million due to the recall. ― additional reporting by Gemma Ritchie and Lynley Donnelly