News24 has received two letters asking that consumers rethink not buying aQuellé water following allegations about human rights abuses at KwaSizabantu Mission. Read the letters below:
aQuellé has uplifted the KZN economy
Covid-19 did not impact me that much as I am considered an essential service employee. I am currently working for a fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company based in Durban and I have been working since the country went into lockdown Level 5. I have been following the news very closely to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on the South African economy. I know for sure that media houses are also considered essential service providers.
The latest statistics show South Africa has a 37% unemployment rate, with most companies unable to breathe post-Covid-19. The impact of Covid-19 is understated and I think we will still see the ripple effects in the coming months. Employers and employees are finding it hard to breathe and that has a direct impact on the economy of South Africa, as well as revenue collection by the South African Revenue Service.
I have noted a harmful statement published by News24 last month – "if you want to stop a cult then don't buy aQuellé." This is an attack on a brand that was only born in 1997 and has been very helpful in the upliftment of the KwaZulu-Natal economy and the KwaMxhosa community. Workers employed by KwaSizabantu Mission are finding it hard to breathe as these allegations are constantly in the media and stores are not buying KwaSizabantu Mission products. I am not saying justice must not be served. Will KwaSizabantu Mission employees get justice?
Some of these employees have families who depend on them to provide food and shelter. These employees have accounts to pay. How will those accounts be paid when they are working short time? If this is about justice, we must also think about justice for the 1 500 KwaSizabantu Mission employees who are unable to breathe.
The KwaSizabantu Mission employees are understated and suppliers of packaging and other raw material are also finding it hard to survive with the sudden stop in orders. Those suppliers of raw material also have families to feed and bills to pay. Are we doing them justice when we say people must stop buying KwaSizabantu products?
Let us grow the economy of South Africa together. Let KwaSizabantu Mission brands continue to employ the people of South Africa and directly contribute to the development of the KwaMxhosa community.
- Nkosi Zikode, kwaMaphumulo
Allow for investigations to continue, but don't tarnish the aQuellé brand
This letter is in response to an article about KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala's statement regarding KwaSizabantu Mission (KwaSizabantu: If allegations are proven those responsible will be dealt with - Zikalala).
All major retailers who have been associated with the aQuellé brand should seriously please think about the economic consequences this will have on thousands of families, as far as job losses are concerned. This has been the livelihood of people in the surrounding areas and many other people who have been working at the mission for many years.
However, this is not eluding closure on the claims over the last few weeks. As the premier has indicated, thought must be given to handling both issues surrounding the nature of events – aQuellé and the allegations.
I must fully agree with the premier's plea.
With the pandemic and the economic situation in SA, thousands of individuals have had to resort to job losses, retrenchments and company closures.
In relation to the KwaSizabantu Mission exposé, retailers that have been associated with aQuellé have had no other reason to boycott the brand than to get closure on what has transpired thus far. Where has the principle of innocent until proven guilty scenario in our democracy gone?
Nevertheless, this will be a first in SA history where a popular brand gets tarnished due to past encounters that are still under investigation. Allow for the investigation process to continue and let the work continue. Do not tarnish the name of the whole institution and the people who have worked so hard to build it over the years.
- Roland Moodley, Durban