Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

UK public relations company Bell Pottinger will face a disciplinary committee on Friday after being accused of exploiting racial tensions in SA.

The UK’s Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) will hold the hearing behind closed doors‚ at an undisclosed venue in London.

This stems from an official complaint by the DA in July‚ which accused the company of exploiting racial tensions to drive an economic and political agenda in favour of the politically connected Gupta family.

"The hearing will commence … with the DA giving a verbal summary of our complaint against Bell Pottinger detailing how the pro-Gupta propaganda campaign contravened the PRCA’s codes of conduct‚" the party said in a statement on Thursday.

"A representative of Bell Pottinger will, thereafter, be given the opportunity to respond to our case. Members of the PRCA disciplinary committee will then be invited‚ in turn‚ to question both the DA and the representative of Bell Pottinger. On conclusion of the hearing‚ the committee will begin its deliberations."

Bell Pottinger fired a lead partner‚ and suspended another partner and two employees‚ in the wake of accusations that it contributed to campaigns to stir up racial division.

"There has been a social media campaign that highlights the issue of economic emancipation in a way that we‚ having seen it‚ consider to be inappropriate and offensive‚" the UK firm said in reaction to a sustained social media storm and complaints about the company’s activities in SA.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan described the apology as a "pathetic cover-up" and an "insult" to South Africans.

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