In 2008, I received the anonymous letter [below] signed by "Very Concerned" along with the Coca-Cola accident report named "Vehicle Accident Report Killing 10 Children." I noticed at the end of the report that a press release was prepared "to release to 3 friendly media houses." I wondered if this was Coke's way of doing damage control. Were there any independent investigations into the accident? What were the results of these investigations? How were the families compensated for their losses?
I called the number on the accident report and spoke to the Point of Contact listed — Lee Blackeney. I was surprised to learn that this is the same Lee who works on security for Coca-Cola at each annual meeting and with whom I've conversed a number of times. Lee, however, adamantly refused to discuss the accident report.
Now I see that Coca-Cola Tanzania is launching a countrywide campaign dubbed "Open Happiness." As reported in Africa Confidential on April 21, 2011: "According to Coca-Cola Tanzania Senior Brand Manager, Ms. Christian Maina, the campaign is part of the company's strategies to connect it with youth looking for happiness in different ways or things."
In other words, Coca-Cola will now try to make big profits off making new generations of kids in Tanzania awfully sick through mass consumption of their sugary, caffeine-laden soft drinks, or even worse, through their mass consumption of chemically-sweetened, caffeine-laden diet drinks.
And in Kenya and other African states as throughout the world, land and water will be polluted by Coke's operations and scarce water sources overexploited just to produce more Coca-Cola beverages. Coke's unhealthy beverages, which are being aggressively marketed to kids, will damage their health, in many cases irreparably.
Are there any parents, students, health or other organizations or anyone in Tanzania who would like to start up a Campaign to Stop Killer Coke? If so, please contact us.
Peace & Justice,
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
The attached is an internal accident report from Coke. This accident took place less than a year ago in rural Tanzania and killed many school children. There was no mention of this in the media because Coke successfully stifled it locally. Such accidents are very common in the Coke business. This is one of many fatality reports. They do not hold themselves or their franchises accountable. They believe that this is a necessary cost in doing business. You will not be able to get their safety data -- because they do not report it externally. Believe me, it is one of the worst for a company of its size. Many of their franchises and operations do not even record safety data. Employee and contractor facilities [fatalities] are very common and frequent in Coke's business -- especially in the third world. The management is deliberately turning a blind eye to this. They do not want to deal with an issue that will make them look negative. Something has to be done. I am sending this to you because I know that you are the only one who can help.
A new IMCR report has been created, for which you are an interested party. Details of the report are listed below. If you don't immediately see the document in the Incident Management tool, it may have originated from another location, and replication may take up to 90 minutes before the report appears in your copy of the tool.
Vehicle Accident Killing 10 Children
Type of Incident: Serious Incident
Occurrence Date: 19-5ep-2007
Occurrence Location: Mbeya Plant
Point of Contact: Lee Blakeney/US/NA/TCCC
Telephone Number: 1-404-676-5957
Document, Author: Operations Center
Created on Server: ATLD07
Last night a pick up vehicle belonging to Coca-Cola Kwanza - Mbeya plant had an accident at Kiwira village at 10pm at night. Ten (10) children were killed as they were crossing the road from church. Nine others (9) were injured are in hospital. The villagers burnt the vehicle. The driver of the vehicle took off after the accident until this morning when he reported to the regional police.
The situation at Kiwira village has been very tense since the accident.
ECABU IMCR team has met and the following is the sequence of management action:
The bottler team in Mbeya has met the District Commissioner and the Chief of Police in Mbeya region.
The Chief of Police is talking to the villagers and the teenagers to cool down the situation. The regional team is Iiasing with the local administration and police so as to go to the village to offer condolences and visit the injured at the hospital, and further offer hospitalisation and burial support.
We will immediately undertake internal investigations on the accidents more so on the status of the driver at the time of the accident and why it took so long for him to report the accident.
A holding press statement from ECABU PAC has been given to PAC in Dar es Salaam to release to 3 friendly media houses.