Dispute over donkey soap turns dirty
Johannes Visagie, founder of Kalahari Secrets, an indigenous cosmetics company specialising in donkey milk products, has accused his former research partner of stealing his idea.
57-year-old Visagie, whose business was recently featured in Voice Money, insists Dr. David Takuwa, a lecturer at the University of Botswana (UB), is guilty of cashing in on his hard work.
“Indigenous scientists need to be protected against their ideas being stolen,” lamented the visibly upset Visagie, who is usually a jolly and bubbly man when given the opportunity to talk about his products.
The Werda man believes Takuwa wanted a piece of his business after realising the potential financial profit involved.
“I approached Takuwa solely for help with research for my donkey milk soap recipe – all I needed from him was to help me with compiling findings so that I authenticate my product,” claimed Visagie, who revealed that Takuwa currently has a product similar to his Kalahari Donkey Soap, (Takuwa Donkey Soap) in the market, which he strongly suspects was born from his collaboration with the Doctor.
Although his soap has the backing of the office of the President as well as the UB’s Chemistry Department where the research was conducted, Visagie fears his indigenous knowledge on the benefits of donkey milk has fallen into the wrong hands.
“At one point I asked him why he was doing this to me and he said he also wanted a legacy for his children,” reminisced Visagie, who said he asked Takuwa if he knew he was committing an offence and the Doctor reportedly replied that if he tweaked a part of the recipe, Visagie wouldn’t have the rights to the soap anymore.
When confronted on the allegations, Dr. Takuwa explained that he willingly assisted when Visagie came to him looking for a research partner into the benefits of using donkey milk in basic soap.
“I am a professional and would never use someone else’s work to advance my academic and research career,” refuted Takuwa, who maintained the product he worked on with Visagie was just a basic soap and is nothing like the one with his name on.
According to the UB lecturer, Takuwa Donkey Milk Soap is a product he had been working on with someone else and contains natural herbs, like aloe vera and lemon, which target specific skin conditions such as acne and blemishes.
Takuwa further asserted that naming the product after him was merely an acknowledgment of his contribution to the research into the soap’s medicinal attributes.
Meanwhile, Aobakwe Obusitse, a young research student who worked with Visagie and Takuwa, confirmed that Dr. Takuwa, who was his lecturer at the time, helped conduct the research into Visagie’s product and his main involvement was as a research leader.
Despite the on-going dispute between Visagie and Takuwa, Obusitse said he was proud of his involvement in the research of the Kalahari Donkey Milk Soap, which he worked on for a year, and would like to see it take flight and hit major stores.