The UK's Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) has agreed that Bell Pottinger violated its professional charter -- and South Africans are really happy.
Bell Pottinger will now be given five days to appeal the PRCA's decision if it so chooses.
"Obviously we are cautiously optimistic because we don't know what the ruling says exactly, but what we can say for now is that we eagerly await the ruling on the 4th of September," the DA's shadow communications minister Phumzile van Damme told HuffPost SA on Thursday from the United Kingdom.
"It is really good to see our hard work pay off, but everyone back home must know that we did this on behalf of the people of South Africa. We will hold Bell Pottinger to account, no matter what."
Marketing analyst, advisor and media commentator Chris Moerdyk also weighed in. "I'm absolutely delighted, and I really hope that this will really send a strong message to PR companies, locally and abroad, who make a frequent habit of looking at money before morality," he said.
"Sometimes they pull out all stops to really protect big corporates and political parties when they clearly are wrong. Quite honestly I think it's not only Bell Pottinger -- they are just one of the ones that got caught -- but I think there are a many more players guilty of the same kind of behavior," Moerdyk told HuffPost.
Twitter users celebrated the first steps toward a win. "Congratulations! Thanks for holding #BellPottinger responsible for defiling our country!" said one Twitter user.
A report earlier in the week that CEO James Henderson had resigned turned out not to be true, but South Africans still held out hope.
Mzansi 🇿🇦 pic.twitter.com/QyI3qHsmhU — Tumi Sole (@tumisole) August 24, 2017