Halaal meat scandal firm lays charges

Cape Town - Orion Cold Storage, the company at the centre of a reported halaal meat scandal, has charged two people with sabotage, blackmail and extortion, the company said on Tuesday.

Orion is alleged to have falsely labelled certain meat products, including kangaroo and pork, as halaal, according to media reports last week.

Some 60% of Orion's market is for halaal meat.

The Red Meat Industry Forum of SA and the SA National Halaal Authority reportedly applied last Thursday for an urgent interdict to stop Orion from distributing meat.

On Monday, Orion filed opposing papers in the Western Cape High Court, and laid criminal charges against two people who it said had engineered the scandal for the benefit of their own companies.

"The companies for which they work will stand to benefit substantially if Orion’s position in the market can be undermined," Orion said in a statement.

"It is known that in the past few years Orion has taken valuable business from them."

Extortion

The company said the two individuals paid Orion employees to switch products and labels before being loaded on to trucks destined for Gauteng.

It said it did not appear that the mislabelled products had been sold to clients in the Western Cape or clients who bought directly from Orion.

"None of these actions [were] authorised by Orion. They were carried out without the knowledge of any of Orion’s directors or managers," the company said.

It said it was taking action to prevent such occurrences happening on Orion's premises again.

The company said the individuals attempted to extort R1.2m in exchange for video clips of Orion workers mislabelling products.

These videos were in fact set up by the two men, it said.

Orion said all supporting certification showing that its products were halaal and were food grade had been submitted with its court papers.
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