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KFC Disputes Accusations of Kota Idea Theft: Unveiling the Real Story Behind the Innovation



KFC South Africa - KFC

KFC has strongly criticised an entrepreneur who accused them of appropriating his chicken kota “idea,” asserting that the popularity of Kota as a renowned South African dish is widely known. Romeo Malepe from Sharpeville, in the Vaal, took to social media recently to condemn the fast-food chain, alleging that they stole his brainchild. He stated that he had developed the idea four years ago and presented it to the brand management company Yum! at their offices in Bryanston, Johannesburg as reported by the Sowetan Live.

Currently, KFC is introducing their limited-edition Sphatlho Kota flavour at pop-up shops in Gauteng. KFC  has since responded by stating, “We are aware of the posts by Mr. Malepe circulating on social media and we refute these claims. Kota being a famous South African meal is not a secret, and the limited-edition KFC Sphatlho is a result of our internal product development process.”

“For over 50 years, KFC has drawn inspiration from South African heritage and culture, frequently introducing local innovations like the Streetwise Chow, Masala Crunch, and Mrs. Ball’s Chutney burger to our menu. We will continue to utilise South African food trends as inspiration to offer relevant products to our loyal customers throughout South Africa.”

Malepe revealed to the Sowetan that his concept of the Streetwise Kota was taken without consent while seeking a partnership with KFC.

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“After conducting research, I discovered that KFC in other countries includes popular local foods in its menu. I examined their menu in India and Russia. Because I wanted to collaborate with them, I developed a kota concept featuring chicken. I assembled a team of photographers and creatives. Leveraging my background in advertising, we created a comprehensive concept that included merchandise such as sneakers and T-shirts. We approached Yum!, the holding company for KFC in Bryanston.”

“We met with the brand manager, but our intention was to present the idea to the higher-ups who could potentially invest in it. However, the manager insisted on dealing with us instead of involving the executives. Consequently, I started a Facebook page for Streetwise Kota, which quickly went viral, with people demanding the Streetwise Kota at KFC outlets. That same year, I received a letter from their lawyers demanding that I remove the page and delete the pictures.”

Malepe was already selling the Streetwise Kota at various Kota festivals and was forced to change the name to Kota Culture.

“When I received the lawyers’ letter, I realised that our chances of establishing a partnership were slim. It breaks my heart to see their advertisements. All I want is for them to acknowledge that I originated the idea. Since they are already using it, they can simply purchase it officially. I cannot compete with them… they are a major corporation.”

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Photo: Twitter / @KFC South Africa

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