Bell Pottinger faces deadline over stoking racial hatred charges

Phumzile van Damme. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)
Phumzile van Damme. (Conrad Bornman, Gallo Images, Rapport)

Cape Town - Controversial public relations firm Bell Pottinger has until next Thursday July 13 to respond to the complaint the Democratic Alliance lodged against them with the British-based Public and Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).

The DA alleges that Bell Pottinger stoked racial hatred in South Africa in the work they have done for the Gupta family and Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma's son.

DA MP and national spokesperson Phumzile van Damme said on Thursday the PRCA confirmed late on Wednesday that Bell Pottinger must respond by July 13.

"Specifically, Bell Pottinger must submit written observations in light of the clauses of the PRCA's Professional Charter and Code of Conduct which the DA alleges that the PR firm violated," Van Damme said, according to a press statement.

SPECIAL REPORT: #GuptaLeaks

Following the revelations contained in the #GuptaLeaks, it appears that Bell Pottinger have violated, among others, clause 4 of the PRCA's charter, which states that: "[A] member is required to take all reasonable care that professional duties are conducted without causing offence on the grounds of gender, race, religion, disability or any other form of discrimination or unacceptable reference," according to the DA.

'Smear campaign'

"The DA welcomes the PRCA's swift correspondence regarding this matter," said Van Damme.

"The ball is now in Bell Pottinger's court to respond to our complaint before the five day deadline expires.

"The work Bell Pottinger has done for the Guptas and Zumas has had a damaging effect on our country and they must face the consequences of their actions."

READ: UK-based PR association to investigate Gupta-linked Bell Pottinger

In April, Bell Pottinger cut its ties with the Guptas' company Oakbay, telling the Financial Times that they became "the target of a politically driven smear campaign in South Africa over the last few months, with a number of totally false and damaging accusations levelled at it".

The #GuptaLeaks revealed how the London-based PR firm assisted the Guptas - after meeting with Duduzane Zuma - to create a narrative meant to discredit the Guptas' many critics.

They also helped some ANC office bearers, like Collen Maine, leader of the ANC Youth League, with their speeches.

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