Clover hopes technicality will end milk inquest

The price-fixing investigation into THE milk industry should be dropped because of a technicality, said Clover.
Issue date : 13 June 2008

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The price-fixing investigation into THE milk industry should be dropped because of a technicality, said Clover. This was after it brought a court application on 2 June to have Competition Tribunal hearings in September cancelled, because the Commission was out of time.

The milk processor said the commission only had a year from the time it received the complaint against the milk processors to refer it to the commission and this time had lapsed. lover said the clock started ticking in 2004 when a small dairy farmer in the southern Cape complained in a letter to the Competition Commission that milk processors were using price-fixing tactics.

 An investigation followed in 2005, and in December 2006 cartel charges were laid against eight dairy processors: Clover Industries, SA, Parmalat, Nestlé, Woodlands Dairy, Lancewood, Milkwood Dairy and Ladismith Cheese. lover’s advocate, David Unterhalter, argued that because of the delay between the submission of the complaint and the referral, the commission did not have the jurisdiction to refer the complaint to the tribunal.

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The case should have been referred in 2005, he said. The Competition Commission’s advocate Rafik Bhana argued that the dairy farmer’s letter was not a complaint; it was submission of information. He said the investigation was not brought about by a complaint, but by a probe that the letter instigated. f the letter is found to constitute information and not a complaint, then the investigation into anti-competitive behaviour can be referred to the tribunal. However, if the farmer is found to be complaining about anti-competitive practices, then the time period will have lapsed and the case will be dismissed.

The tribunal will assess the arguments and decide whether or not the case will be dismissed. The decision could set a precedent for how anti-competitive complaints are handled in future. lover deputy CEO Manie Roode said Clover had also lodged an argument against being used as a witness for the commission and being subject to cross-examination by the commission. This would be prejudicial to Clover, Roode said. – Robyn Joubert

Xenophobia could harm hunting industry

The Professional Hunters’ Association of South Africa (PHASA) has circulated a survey to its members to establish if the recent xenophobic violence has caused any cancellations by foreign hunters. The circular follows a statement by Wildlife Ranching SA (WRSA) that some of its members had had foreign hunters cancel trips to South Africa for this reason. “We issued a statement asking our members to explain to clients that the attacks were isolated to illegal immigrants from neighbouring countries,” said WRSA manager Reinhardt Holtzhausen.

“Also that the violence was contained in townships around major cities and had no impact on hunting areas and the tourists who visited these areas.” Holtzhausen confirmed that all the complaints of cancelled hunts came from Limpopo’s bushveld. But PHASA president Peter Butland said he has not yet had any reports from his members about hunts being cancelled due to xenophobia.

“We’ve had a lot of cancellations this year, but they were mainly due to the economic downturn in the US, which impacted on the middle-income hunter who’d visit for a plains game hunt, or what we refer to as a R50 000 hunting safari,” he explained. owever, he noted that European hunters were still quite bullish and continue to support the local hunting industry, which is helping outfitters, professional hunters and game ranchers to survive the current decline in the number of American hunters visiting here. I n the meantime, Butland implored all stakeholders in the industry to remain positive and to continue marketing to their foreign clients.

“Instead of getting despondent about the violence in our townships, we can share with our clients the compassion that so many South Africans are showing by helping those people who have been displaced by the xenophobic violence,” he said. Butland added that PHASA will analyse the outcome of the survey and if it transpires that the violence has had an impact on the hunting industry, the organisation will take up the matter with government. – Jasper Raats

SA hunters get international clout

At the recent 55th annual generalmeeting of the International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC) the South African Hunters and Association (SAHGCA) was formally accepted as a full member.

The SAHGCA can now formally participate on behalf of its members and South Africa in the international conservation arena. The CIC is a formal advisory body to, and associate member of, the World Conservation Union, which in 2004 recognised hunting as an important contributor to biodiversity conservation.

The underwrites and upholds all the principles of this international conservation body. members said they are concerned about the state of conservation in due to a lack of funding and staff capacity at the provincial level. In a recent statement, said there’s further concern that the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism often fails to adhere to the public participatory principle regarding the formulation of new laws and policies.

“This generates friction between hunters and conservation organisations on the one hand and the department on the other hand, because new laws and policies often fly in the face of sustainable utilisation,” the statement read. With its newly acquired membership to the CIC, the is now able to pressurise state departments through international support to formulate and implement sound laws and policies. – Staff reporter