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DA welcomes Bell Pottinger apology but says complaints still stand

The DA’s Phumzile van Damme says the Public Relations and Communications Association has been in contact with the party.

Picture: @BellPottinger/Twitter

CAPE TOWN – The Democratic Alliance (DA) says although it welcomes the apology by Bell Pottinger, the complaints it that has lodged with two British PR associations still stand.

The party is accusing the UK firm of promoting racial hatred in South Africa following leaked emails which allegedly detail the agency's strategies for the Gupta-owned Oakbay Investments.

On Thursday, Bell Pottinger released a statement saying that interim evidence revealed that some of the work done for the company contravenes its ethics code.

Four employees have also been dismissed over the matter.

The DA’s Phumzile van Damme says that the Public Relations and Communications Association has been in contact with the party.

“We received notification from the PR in the UK indicating that they have given Bell Pottinger five days to respond. We believe that an example needs to be set to private companies that go about trying to assist governments in their corrupt activities.”

The firm has issued an apology, admitting that the campaign was offensive.

It maintains that most allegations against it are untrue, but admits that preliminary evidence is of deep concern.

Bell Pottinger appointed law firm Herbert Smith Freehills to probe the agency's work for Oakbay Capital.

Based on the interim evidence, the PR agency decided to fire four employees, including the lead partner on the account.

The firm says that while the investigation is ongoing, that will give it the opportunity to determine the sacked staff members' precise role in the matter.

It has vowed to release the full report in the next few of weeks.

Bell Pottinger says that it’s angered by the initial findings and regrets the way it ran a social media campaign highlighting the issue of economic emancipation in South Africa.

The agency admits that these activities should never have been undertaken and says it is "deeply sorry" that it has happened.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)