DA wants 'strong sanction' against Guptas' former PR firm Bell Pottinger

Cape Town – The DA expects a "strong sanction" against the Guptas' former public relations firm Bell Pottinger, after the party received confirmation on Thursday afternoon that its complaint against the firm had been upheld.

"This means that the UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) professional practices committee has agreed that Bell Pottinger did indeed violate its Professional Charter, and/or its Public Affairs and Lobbying Code of Conduct," explained DA spokesperson Phumzile van Damme in a press statement.

"We have now received confirmation that our complaint stands, and Bell Pottinger will now be given five days to appeal the PRCA’s decision if it so chooses."

If Bell Pottinger appeals, the PRCA’s board of management will consider the appeal and either approve, amend, or overrule the decision by the professional practices committee and then publish the final decision during the week beginning September 4, 2017.

"The DA looks forward to the PRCA’s full decision regarding disciplinary action against Bell Pottinger. As soon as we receive this, we will communicate on it," said Van Damme.

Also read: Bell Pottinger team believed in the Guptas - CEO

"During its work for Oakbay Capital, the Gupta family and President Jacob Zuma’s son, Duduzane Zuma, Bell Pottinger exploited the already sensitive race relations in South Africa, and a strong message must be sent to the PRCA that unethical conduct by its members will not be tolerated.

“We trust that a strong sanction will be given against Bell Pottinger.

“We reiterate our call for Bell Pottinger to do the right thing and disclose all Gupta contracts and monies from their accounts with the Guptas and reinvest it into South Africa," Van Damme said.

The DA’s complaint – which was heard last week – stems from the #GuptaLeaks, which 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.

The firm cut its ties with the Guptas in April. After the leaks revealed the ambit of their work, it fired some executives involved with the Guptas' account and issued an apology to South Africans, which was received mostly with derision. 

Francis Ingham director general of the PRCA  said, "Our final decision on this case will be made once it has been through the full and balanced process set out in our Professional Charter and Codes of Conduct, including any appeals. We can’t comment further while the process is ongoing.”