- No significant progress in the case over a year later
- Prosecutors still to decide charges
- Health ministry refuses to comment on Nestlé issues
A case against Nestlé that the Botswana Police referred to the Department of Public Prosecution (DPP) after they found it to be “too complex” appears to be in limbo, more than a year later.
The prosecutor in charge of the case, Tamela Mbulawa, told The Botswana Gazette that there is no significant progress yet in the matter as the file is still with her supervisor and that they are still trying to decide which charges to lay especially since there is an accused person in the matter.
She said though the police had already prepared their own charge sheet, they still have to assess it before they can decide on what the most appropriate charge should be if at all there will be any.
Nestlé had been reported to Naledi Police after gathering a group of doctors practicing in Botswana hospitals for a “Nestle Doctors Dinner” at Cresta Lodge in September 2015, under the guise of increasing awareness on breastfeeding and their products. This was found to be in violation of regulations of the 2005 Marketing of Foods for Infants and Young Children regulations.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette last year, Naledi Police Station Commander King Tshebo said the company would be charged as per Section 15 of the 2005 Marketing of Foods for Infants and Young Children regulations. The case was however later referred to DPP after the police claimed it was too complex for them.
By holding the meeting in question, Nestlé may have violated Part 3 Section 8 of the regulation because the event was possibly a “direct or indirect method of introducing a designated product or encouraging the buying or use of a designated product,” something which is prohibited by the regulation. The regulation also states that no manufacturer or distributor should offer any benefit to a health worker including “funding for attendance of meetings, seminars or conferences”.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health has continued to frustrate any efforts made by this reporter to seek a response on alleged misconduct by Nestlé. This is despite several complaints and attempts to get their take on issues related to the company.