Listeriosis victims begin class action lawsuit for compensation

Medical technologist Bolele Disenyeng, seen in a lab at The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg. The institute is dealing with the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
Medical technologist Bolele Disenyeng, seen in a lab at The National Institute for Communicable Diseases in Johannesburg. The institute is dealing with the listeriosis outbreak in South Africa.
Image: ALON SKUY

Hundreds of listeriosis victims are a step closer to getting compensation after their lawyers  finally filed court papers in a class action lawsuit against food giant Tiger Brands.

Cathrine Marcus from Richard Spoor Attorneys confirmed that court papers were filed at the South Gauteng High Court in Johannesburg on Monday.

The listeria outbreak which was traced to contaminated cold meat products of polony, viennas and russians resulted in more than 200 deaths while there were 1,065 confirmed laboratory cases.

The cold meats were produced by Enterprise Foods which is a subsidiary of Tiger Brands.  Most of those affected were pregnant women and infants.

The papers were filed after the court granted a certificate order in December, paving a way for victims to go ahead with the lawsuit.

“We have a very strong case and we want our clients to be compensated as soon as possible,” Marcus said.

She said they would also claim constitutional damages on behalf of their clients. Marcus said the first stage of the case would be to establish liability on the part of the Tiger Brands in terms of the Consumer Protection Act. 

Tiger Brands spokesperson Nevashnee Naicker said they received the summons on Tuesday morning. “We have only received summons this morning and our lawyers are looking through it,” Naicker said.

She said the company would release a proper statement once it had studied the court papers.

Many people suffered miscarriages, disabilities and death because of the deadly outbreak which is said to be the biggest in South African history.

Tons of Enterprise cold meat products had to be pulled from the shelves and destroyed.  Tiger Brands announced the reopening of its factory outlet in Polokwane, Limpopo, following thorough cleaning and inspections by environmental health officers in December. 

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