Saturday, August 20, 2011


On 08 August, several people who were having lunch at the Mug & Bean restaurant  V&A Waterfront Cape Town, were sprayed with Pyrinex 480 EC a pesticide containing a highly toxic, banned organophosphate named Chlorpyrifos.




Within days, and as more victims fell ill, The TATIB Foundation started receiving requests for help.

One of the victims managed to take a couple of  photos of the 5 litre plastic container containing the poison and of the knapsack sprayer, and to email these to the TATIB Foundation on 11 August 2011.

When we discovered that Pyrinex 480EC contained Chlorpyrifos we immediately phoned the V&A and then sent them an email  attached herewith :

We received a reply from Colin Devenish, of the V&A as follows :

We then sent an email to Makhteshim-Agan SA, the manufacturer of the poison as follows:

Makhteshim have still not responded to this email, despite our making an international phone call to them as a result of which they undertook to send us the information that we requested. We are still waiting!!

We contacted a number of suppliers of the product in order to get them to confirm when the batch in question was manufactured, as the V&A were insisting that they purchased the pesticide in September 2009 and as such did not know that it had been banned. One one of the suppliers came back to us with the confirmation that the top line of numbers  2011 06 07 is the date of manufacture and the bottom row of numbers is the batch number.  We assume therefore, based on the information that we have been given, and due to the fact that Makhteshim have not bothered to respond to us, that the batch in question was made in 2011 and not 2009.

On 12 August 2011, we sent a detailed email back to Colin Devenish of the V&A Waterfront in which we also attached the Product Labels and other statutory documents.  We have attached a copy of this email via the link below  [excuse the formatting as it has been converted from email to pdf ]

The various attachments to this email can be found here :

It is clearly evident, if you read through the documents above, that Chlorpyrifos is a highly toxic organophosphate poison.  The warnings on the Product Labels make clear reference to the toxicity and also the side effects

We reported this incident to the National Department of Agriculture, giving them details of the complainants and received an email back from them on 17 August 2011, confirming that they are investigating the matter.
From information relayed to us by a number of  victims, the National Department of Agriculture has not yet contacted them, as at 21 August 2011,  in order to take official statements.  In past exposures to agricultural toxins, the National Dept of Agriculture has taken several weeks , if not months, to fully investigate a complaint and their modus operandi has been to always insist that the complainants submit signed and stamped Affidavits, clearly detailing what happened.   

A copy of the email received from the NDA can be found here :

We have also recommended that the complainants/victims depose Affidavits at their nearest police station and furthermore than they get their doctors to fill out the necessary forms - as exposure to organophosphates is certifiable under the Health Act and a copy would need to be sent, by the examining doctor, to the National Dept of Health.  From the information relayed to us, we understand that this has been done.

From our past experience,  in similar matters, it can take several months for the National Dept of Health to acknowledge receipt of the relevant paperwork, and then several more months for both them and the NDA to in fact commence with an investigation. Both departments have very limited resources and do not, for example have sufficient funding to even run case studies on the toxicity of chlorpyrifos. This has been mentioned previously on this blogspot with links to newspaper articles in which Prof Verdoorn, amongst others, talks more about this.  If you also go and read up on  you will come across a discussion on the Dept of Health and how they reacted to the poisonings at the Chameleons Montessori School and how they admitted that they simply did not have enough local information as to the toxicity and case studies - face it - South Africa is a 3rd World Country and we are so very far behind in so many ways.

So what is the way forward through all of this ?  Is it going to be the consumer who will, at the end of the day, force things to change ?

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