Orion Cold Storage, the Cape-based company accused of rebranding meat as Halaal when it couldn’t have been, is in the Western Cape High Court today facing the music. Orion themselves have laid charges of sabotage, but the two workers charged say they have evidence proving their claims, like the video they shot, for instance.
Orion managing director, Patrick Gaertner said on the steps outside court earlier that he has been extorted and slandered in the Halaal meat scandal:
I’m comfortable because I have nothing to hide. I’ve spoken to whoever wants to listen to me and I’ll continue to do so.
Orion laid charges against former business associate Heirich van Staden and his employee Tobias Lombard for what amounts to fraud, bribery and extortion.
There is certainly something sinister on the boil in this case, as Fatima Schroeder reports for IOL:
Gaertner said in an affidavit that Orion had not received any complaints from its clients. Gaertner added that one of the applicants’ informants was an independent sales agent, who worked for commission from an office at Orion’s Muizenberg premises under another name. He was not an Orion employee.
There was friction between them after Gaertner discovered that the informant was an unrehabilitated insolvent. The relationship worsened when Gaertner started having difficulties with his transactions. The business relationship with him was terminated in October – just before the interdict application was lodged.
According to him, the informant had instructed a small group of Orion’s employees to relabel stock. According to the workers, they were controlled and supervised by the two informants, who gave them the incorrect labels to apply and supplied them with the cleaning material to remove the expiry dates, Gaertner said.
Orion has affidavits from some of the workers, who confirmed that they had acted under the instructions of the informants.
Orion released a statement that seems to coincide with what Schroeder has stated in her report:
The companies for which they work will stand to benefit substantially if Orion’s position in the market can be undermined. It is known that in the past few years Orion has taken valuable business from them.
Orion also said that the two individuals had tried to extort R1,2 million in exchange for the video footage they had assembled.
This hasn’t stopped the Muslim Judicial Council suspending Orion’s Halaal certification of meat products though, and the Red Meat Industry Forum of South Africa are just one of the 17 groups applying for an urgent interdict to stop the company from operating altogether.
Thus far, no ass flavoured products have been reported on shelves across the country.
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