They took cover beneath the thin veil to persistently unleash untoward mayhem on South Africa. Communications Minister Ayanda Dlodlo said Bell Pottinger took advantage of the racial tensions in South Africa to advance its campaign for Gupta-owned Oakbay.

But, the minister said the company’s efforts to apologise were commendable.

On Thursday, the UK based PR firm issued a statement apologising unequivocally for “anyone impacted” by the work it did for Oakbay.

Three months ago Bell Pottinger resigned as the communications firm for Oakbay, saying that its staff had faced unfair criticism.

Bell Pottinger had been accused of helping to orchestrate social media attacks on well-known journalists who did exposés on the Guptas, and of fomenting racial divisions by promoting the term “white monopoly capital”, in attempts to divert attention away from the family.

“For it to be done in South Africa, a country which has become an international beacon of hope for its progress towards racial reconciliation, is a matter of profound regret and in no way reflects the values of Bell Pottinger,” the firm’s CEO James Henderson said in the statement.

“The issue of racism in SA is a real problem,” Dlodlo noted.

“(What) they are admitting to today is that some of their communications could have fuelled the racial tensions or divided society.

“I think it’s a good thing that a company that has been involved in something unsavoury has apologised.

“We’ve seen over time in SA that it’s very difficult to pin people down on racism even where there is proof.”