From quack claims about Covid-19 to outright forgery

NanoWorks presents fraudulent NRCS and SABS certificates

By Natasha Bolognesi

27 July 2020

Many companies are exploiting ignorance and fear and selling Covid-19 cleaning solutions that are unnecessary and expensive. Regular cleaning with household products is sufficient. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Earlier this month we exposed misleading claims made by the company NanoWorks owned by Jaco van der Merwe. The company has been marketing a product branded as Nano Deionized Aqua Solution containing Natrolyte 815.312 Ag T ion+. It claims this cleaning product eradicates Covid-19 from all surfaces.

It has been unable to provide any evidence that its product is safer or more effective than any standard household cleaning product, despite repeated requests.

But NanoWorks’s misrepresentations do not end with their claims for product efficacy. After our article was published, it emerged that the company has forged documents about this product.

In order to sell Natrolyte 815.312 Ag T ion+ as a hand and surface sanitiser for Covid-19, NanoWorks must comply with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS). The company emailed us what appeared to be valid NRCS certification. The certificate describes the product Eco-Lyte, but marketed as Natrolyte 815.312 Ag T ion+. This detail was mentioned in the original article and picked up by the reputable company ECA Technologies Africa, the original producers of Eco-Lyte.

ECA Technologies Africa MD Mark Williams, understandably upset, corresponded with GroundUp: “This article has made reference to our product [Eco-Lyte] in a defamatory manner. We take special issue with this as we have nothing to do with the claims or the company [NanoWorks] mentioned in this article.”

Moreover, if you compare ECA Technologies Africa’s genuine NRCS certificate for Eco-Lyte with NanoWork’s certificate, it is clear that the latter is a forgery.

We asked Van der Merwe to explain why he had used ECA Technologies Africa’s certification to market his own product. He replied: “I asked ECA Africa Technologies if we could use their NRCS registration certificate and they said ‘yes’.”

Williams denies this. In any case he wouldn’t have the authority to give NanoWorks this permission. Only the NRCS can certify a product.

Williams said that NanoWorks was never directly involved with his company, but through one of his wholesale clients.

According to Williams, NanoWorks came to be in possession of the NRCS certificate as well as other documentation via its wholesale client. “NanoWorks requested the registration documents and these were supplied (by the wholesaler, as is the norm) along with conditions. Clients who resell Eco-Lyte are entitled to present their end users with these documents on request, no problem. Distributors, resellers and end users often ask for registration documents. This is a very normal request as consumers are aware disinfectants should be registered.”

Van der Merwe admitted to GroundUp that his company does not hold its own original NRCS certificate for Natrolyte 815.312 Ag T ion+.

Williams explains that it is common in South Africa for companies to relabel, repackage and even dilute products. “This occurs without our control and we can’t manage and stop every customer who does this. However, when or if this occurs the product is no longer Eco-Lyte and therefore any registrations, safety data and documentation under Eco-Lyte are null and void.”

Clauses 3.1 and 3.3 of NRCS certificates make it clear that no ingredients or modification may be made to the product.

Besides the NRCS forgery, ECA Technologies Africa’s SABS certificates have also been forged by NanoWorks. Williams says: “The alterations of the SABS documents are even more severe and noteworthy especially considering it looks like Nanoworks and their ‘product’ didn’t even exist back in 2010/11 when our certificates were issued.”

“Our legal representatives are currently in communication with NanoWorks with action underway,” says Williams.