A new local government in South Africa, led by Luthuli House President Bantu Holomisa, has banned the Omicron or grapefruit brand in Cape Town, citing eye diseases. According to the brand’s publicist, sampa tshidhu, the brand has strong local support and its impact on the region’s environment will be significant.
It remains unclear how exactly a “stripped” grapefruit causes eye problems, though the local government in the Gauteng Province of South Africa, the government-controlled area in the center of the country, has also started issuing “temporary closures” on other types of fruits such as kiwi and mango, too. The Omicron has only been selling in South Africa since it arrived in the country about four decades ago, as a type of Azuki mango. As the name implies, the fruit is an offshoot of the Azuki or lingar mango.
But despite the outbreak of Vitamin B-related eye disorders, amid the new travel ban, the Omicron grapefruit juice is still on sale in plenty of South African supermarkets, right alongside its natural silver cousins.
In a statement, the Ministry of Human Settlements, Business Development and Environment pointed to its specific regulations for fruit exports to state that the Omicron is unlikely to suffer from eye problems unless it is discarded or not refrigerated properly.
But the symbolism has been missed by South Africa’s opponents of the Omicron brand, who are asking that the fruit be returned to its natural state, which would benefit both South Africa’s fauna and its economy.
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