A consumer terrorist is on the loose - and experts fear that this could be the beginning of a new phenomenon. South Africa is vulnerable and not adequately prepared for extortion attempts on corporations or threats of poisoned products, Dr Mark Welman, director of the Centre for Crime Prevention at Rhodes University, revealed as details emerged of a blackmail campaign targeting Pick 'n Pay.
"This type of thing has been done several times in Europe and the United States. It is something I predict will start occurring more frequently here," he warned. "South Africa is not prepared for this. We are still in the infant stage of understanding risk management."
Peter Richer, the head of operations in Africa for Kroll Incorporated, an international risk consultancy, said he knew of at least 10 instances in South Africa where food contamination had been used for extortion. "Most cases are hoaxes and can be contained very quickly," he said. Pick 'n Pay has withdrawn four products from all its stores following threats by an extortionist claiming to have poisoned random products.
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