KwaZulu-Natal economic development, tourism and environmental affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube says her department is in communication with the management of Spar KZN with the view of terminating contracts of franchise owners who are involved in price hiking.
This follows consumer complaints that many businesses have taken advantage of the lockdown by increasing prices while South Africans have been stockpiling food amid the national lockdown.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that the country was to undergo a 21-day lockdown from today as the number coronavirus infections continue to increase.
Today the Department of Health reported the country’s first two deaths, in the Western Cape.
Dube-Ncube said the termination of contracts for the management and control of Spar shops will strengthen the department’s zero-tolerance policy towards price gougers who are using the Coronavirus outbreak to sell much-needed food and other products at inflated prices.
“We are aware as the department that there are currently over 900 independently owned Spar stores in the country with hundreds located throughout the corners of KwaZulu-Natal. Importantly, we welcome the fact that the holding company has strict regulations that are aimed at ensuring Spar’s positive brand image,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said they also welcome the decisive action by the leadership of Spar in KwaZulu-Natal. The willingness to terminate contracts of management and control of Spar by franchise owners is a clear demonstration of patriotism. Undoubtedly, history will judge them positively,” she highlighted.
Furthermore, she called on other retailers to follow the example of Spar’s management.
Stats released by Statistics South Africa last year indicated that consumers spent R31 900 per second in retail stores.
In addition, South Africa’s retail trade industry contributed to R1-trillion in sales to the local economy.
Dube-Ncube assured KwaZulu-Natal citizens that senior officials from the Consumer Protection Services were currently processing hundreds of complaints of price hiking with the assistance of law enforcement authorities, the National Consumer Commission, the National Competition Authority and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.
Following numerous complaints, the department has also welcomed the arrest of the owner of Longbury Meat Market in Phoenix for contravening the Consumer Protection Act Regulations and the Disaster Management Act Regulations.
If found guilty, the owner will pay R1000 000 fine or up to 10% of his business’s annual turnover. In addition, there is a possibility of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
To report complaints regarding excessive pricing people are encouraged to email Consumer complaints @kznedtea.gov.za or send a WhatsApp to 082 458 0706 or 082 374 6660.