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Labels must reflect true place of origin

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies says SA traders who falsely label products that originate from the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) as coming from Israel are in breach of the Consumer Protection Act.

The Open Shuhada Street (a pro-Palestinian lobby group) has alleged that products of Ahava, a cosmetics company, are being distributed in SA as products that originate in Israel, whereas they actually originate from the OPT.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies is leading the charge against traders who mislabel products from Palestine. Photo: Greg Maxwell. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

“In this regard consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from OPT are products originating from Israel,” said Davies.

“The burden for proving where the products originate will lie with traders.”

SA recognises the State of Israel only within the borders demarcated by the UN in 1948. These demarcated borders of Israel do not include Palestinian Territories that were occupied after 1967.

A joint statement issued by pro-Palestine groups in SA, Palestine and the US has welcomed Davies’ concern.

Organisations represented by the statement include Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (SA), the Palestine Solidarity Forum (at UCT), and the Popular Struggle Co-ordination Committee (Palestine).

“Products from the Israeli Settlements in the OPT are illegal under international law; however, Israel has tried exporting them in recent years under the false pretense of having been ‘Made in Israel’,” read the statement.

Significantly, Davies states in the notice that “the burden of proving where the products originate will lie with the traders”.

The onus lies with the traders because “consumers in South Africa should not be misled into believing that products originating from the OPT are products of Israel”.

This will now render Israeli trade with SA far more difficult and is a serious setback for Israeli companies wanting to do business in SA.

The represented organisations called on companies including the Wellness Warehouse, Dis-Chem Group and Truworths to remove from their stores all Ahava products that originate in the OPT but are being falsely labelled as products of Israel.

“We further call on Pick n Pay, Woolworths and any other trader to refrain from carrying Israeli merchandise, such as Soda Streem,” said the grouping.

Davies has invited the public to comment on this issue.

Ntutuzelo Vananda will receive these comments on behalf of the Department of Trade and Industry.

He can be contacted at 012 394 1383.

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