The Food Lover’s Market at The Wedge shopping centre in Morningside was caught on Friday allegedly stocking about 50kg of illegally sized rock lobster – and during the raid a fracas broke out between representatives of the store, officials and journalists.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries acted on a tip-off that the store had been selling undersized rock lobster to customers despite requirements set out by the department.
“We took action after close monitoring and surveillance,” said control and conservation inspector, Themba Lethu.
The department worked closely with the police to stop the store’s alleged transgressions of the Marine Living Resources Act. Depending on the severity of an offence the department may issue a spot fine or take legal action.
The department discovered 50kg of illegally sized rock lobster which measured less than 7.5cm. These are considered immature and illegal to sell.
Despite it being a success, the raid was not conflict-free with Food Lover’s Market representatives, journalists and members of the department getting into arguments and nearly having a fist fight.
By invitation of the department, journalists, photographers and cameramen arrived to report on the raid.
But what followed was a miscommunication between the department and Food Lover’s Market owner Ben Rubin.
After following department officials into a refrigerated storage area, eight journalists were questioned about their presence at the raid.
Rubin said he was unaware the media would be present despite an invitation from the department. Security and the police were called to intervene after store security blocked the journalists from leaving.
The eight journalists were forced to remain in the refrigerated area until they agreed to delete the photographs they had taken. The department of communication’s Steve Galame apologised.