Chicken company gags our source

2011-01-02 09:51

Supreme Poultry moved this week to gag a City Press source who blew the whistle on the frozen chicken scandal.

Johan Matthee, one of three sources who spoke to City Press, is also set to face a damages suit for the losses incurred by the country’s third-largest chicken producer.

Supreme has admitted selling “reworked” chickens to wholesalers and spaza shops.

An urgent application was heard in the Free State High Court in Bloemfontein on Wednesday.

In court papers, Supreme claims that they are still suffering losses due to “false, inaccurate and defamatory
statements” allegedly made by Matthee, a former production manager at Supreme’s Botshabelo plant.

Supreme axed Matthee in September for alleged sexual harrassment.

He contests the claim and is currently involved in a labour dispute with them.

The parties agreed to an interim order and will return to court in February.

The order, which was approved by Judge George Wright, bars Matthee from making specific statements about Supreme’s practices.

Matthee may not say that Supreme treats its chicken with chlorine. This was earlier admitted by Supreme, which says it is best practice.

He may also not tell the media that “hundreds of tons of chicken” have been reworked over the past few years.

According to an affidavit by Jack ­Searle, Supreme’s processing director, they had received 108 tons of returned stock in the past 18 months.

He claims not all of the stock is being reprocessed and that this happens on a “limited scale”.

In terms of the order Matthee may not claim that Supreme’s frozen products are being refrozen, although Supreme did not deny this publicly.

Also contained in the court documents is a report by the Mangaung municipality noting that there are “periodical” problems with bad odours emanating from Supreme’s by-product processing plant.

Local authorities rapped Supreme over the knuckles in July this year for dumping waste water in the stormwater system.

Health inspectors could not find anything wrong with Supreme’s practices during a recent spot inspection.

The SACP, Young Communist League and Freedom Front Plus all condemned Supreme’s practices this week and called for a government investigation.

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