The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) plan to launch a class action lawsuit against major companies who were complicit in the spread of listeriosis.

During a media briefing on Thursday, EFF leader Julius Malema said that government and the National Consumer Commission were to blame for the spread of the disease and the death of 180 people for their “slow pace” in containing the bacteria.

“Rainbow Chicken Limited and Enterprise must take full responsibility for the outbreak and compensate those affected and the families of those who died,” said Malema.

The EFF says that court papers will be filed by their lawyers in the next week.

On Monday, Tiger Brands chief executive Lawrence MacDougall said that the company was yet to see any evidence linking its meat products directly to the deaths of 180 people in a virulent listeriosis outbreak

“There is no direct link with the deaths to the products, that we are aware of at this point. We have not received the results from the government yet.
We are acting without that information, but we are taking precautions to protect the consumer, even though we don’t have all the results with us at the moment,” MacDougall said.

Tiger Brands produces around 60 000 tons of processed meat annually, roughly 25% of the processed market in South Africa.

READ MORE: No evidence yet that Enterprise products directly led to deaths — Tiger Brands CEO

On Wednesday night, the party called on its members to “remove” products associated with listeriosis such as polony and cold meats from supermarkets, including Shoprite, Checkers and Woolworths, saying that it refused to take any chances.

“Fighters across the country‚ together with all South Africans‚ must help managers and staff of these retail stores to remove listeriosis products from our shelves,” said EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi.

The listeria bacteria can be found in soil, water and vegetation. Animal products and fresh produce such as fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated by these sources.