SA organisations laud expulsion of Bell Pottinger from PRCA

The DA's Phumzile van Damme says they will be pushing Bell Pottinger to reveal the full extent of the contract.

Picture: @BellPottinger/Twitter

CAPE TOWN - The harsh ruling made against Bell Pottinger has been lauded by South African organisations, but some have questioned whether it is punishment enough.

The Public Relations and Communication Association (PRCA) has imposed its harshest penalty on the PR firm for fanning racial divisions in South Africa.

It stems from a complaint lodged by the Democratic Alliance after a campaign for the Gupta-owned Oakbay Capital was revealed in a trove of leaked emails.

The party’s Phumzile van Damme says they will be pushing Bell Pottinger to reveal the full extent of the contract.

“The sanction is indeed the most serious and it’s only the second time over the last decade that the PRCA has handed such a sanction. This is a victory on behalf of the people of South Africa, who united and said not on our doorstep.”


Pressure group Outa’s Wayne Duvenage says the case should serve as a warning to other unethical businesses.

“The managers need to know that when they impact on a national strategy, such as they did in South Africa, they need to take the blame for that and suffer the consequences.

“The consequences have been big for them; they’ve lost clients and have been banned. We’ve been able to do this as a society and as political parties without having to spend a cent in a court.”

The Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa’s Kavitha Kalicheran said: “I think for me what's very clear is the aspect of responsibility and accountability. That part is missing and I think for the majority of South Africans and the international arena, people want information as to the disclosure of what went down on the Oakbay account.”


Meanwhile, the stream of clients dropping Bell Pottinger as their image polishers may continue following its expulsion from a UK regulator.

The association’s Matt Cartmell said: “We represent over 20,000 PR practitioners, so not to be a member of the PRCA says something bad about your company. It means you’re not ethical, professional. And we’ve already seen clients walking away from Bell Pottinger, I imagine that exodus will continue.”

PRCA Director General Francis Ingham says it is the worst piece of PR malfunction he has ever come across.

“We’re saying Bell Pottinger is not an ethical PR agency and I think any clients or potential clients, looking at how the firm has destroyed its own reputation over the last few months, would hesitate before giving them any money and before entrusting their reputation to Bell Pottinger.”

Findings of Herbert Smith Freehills Review by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)