A food storage facility in a building which also houses a mortuary had been cleared and emptied by yesterday.
Pick n Pay in Rayton, east of Pretoria, has denied it was its food, and said the goods belonged to a nearby filling station.
“No goods stored in this building belong, or have ever belonged, to Pick n Pay. Items stored in this building belong to the garage shop close to the building,” Pick n Pay spokesman Tamra Veley said.
Sowetan established that the storeroom was cleared after the newspaper sent questions about its existence on Friday.
When Sowetan visited yesterday, the storeroom had no stock of the cooking oil, soft drinks, maize meal and energy drinks it once stored.
Workers were busy renovating the property. There was also no one at Angels Funeral Services as all its doors were locked.
SJ da Silva, who owns the Rayton Park Pick n Pay, yesterday disputed claims food stored at the facility was being sold in the local branch of the supermarket chain.
“There are items not sold by Pick n Pay which we sell at my garage, that’s what was stored there. We can’t sell that here,” he said yesterday.
He said the food was removed from the storeroom due to renovations taking place at the building.
When asked if he would be returning the garage food to the same building once renovations were completed, he said: “That I don’t know yet, the previous owner, the people that I am buying from, have given a notice to the funeral parlour.”
When asked why he felt storing the garage store’s food there was fine while it was not okay to store Pick n Pay’s food, he said there was no risk of contamination as he believed the 4m separating the mortuary and storage was “wide enough”.
On Friday afternoon, two men, including a man in a light blue Pick n Pay shirt with the retailer’s name printed on it, were at the premises.
Da Silva dismissed this with “any blue shirt could be mistaken for Pick n Pay”, and said it could be any of his workers, not specifically those at Pick n Pay.
He also complained about not being given a fair opportunity to give his side of the story before it was published.
However, Sowetan called the store on Friday and spoke to Thys, who is a supervisor.
Thys gave Sowetan an e-mail address where questions could be sent, and on Sunday Rochelle Pheiffer from De Villiers & Pheiffer law firm responded that the funeral parlour had been given notice and was moving out.
Pheiffer did not respond to other questions.
Sowetan goes back to source
Following strong denials by Pick n Pay that any of the food stored in the facility that shared premises with a mortuary was sold at its Rayton franchise store, Sowetan revisited the area yesterday.
After noticing from the street that the storage facility seemed empty, Sowetan journalist Isaac Mahlangu went inside the building to be greeted by empty shelves and a wet cement smell.
There were about five workers in blue overalls mixing cement and moving bricks as they sealed open spaces between the roof and the walls.
When asked when the building was emptied, they responded that they found it empty in the morning.
After taking photographs of the empty shelves, Mahlangu was summoned to Da Silva’s offices by two men who initially demanded he delete the pictures from his phone.
After about 10 minutes in one of the Pick n Pay offices where Da Silva disputed the story, Mahlangu was allowed to leave.