PRETORIA - The law should take its course on individuals and businesses selling expired goods, or products past their sell-by date, chairperson of the Pretoria West Business Forum Zahid Afzal said on Friday.
"I did not know that there were [businesses selling] goods that were expired, but that is totally wrong if they were doing that. We condemn that," Afzal spoke to African News Agency (ANA) after different law enforcement agencies raided several shops in Pretoria West, were numerous expired goods including condoms, deodorants and drinks were found on the shelves.
"We would want the authorities and the business community to educate those people, and tell them that this is not right. We have to follow the standards. Everyone must follow the rules and regulations."
The National Consumer Commission (NCC) on Friday appealed to customers to be vigilant, and always check expiry and "sell by" dates on products to avoid using harmful goods.
"Vigilance and cooperation from communities is what we are looking for. When you buy a product, and you see that it has reached its sell by date, your responsibility is to take that product back to the supplier. If that supplier says they are not taking back those goods, that is where we will have a beef with them," said NCC deputy national commissioner Thezi Mabuza.
"Under normal circumstances, things like this [selling of expired goods] happen with small retailers and big retailers too. It is your responsibility as a consumer, not to go in and loot, but take that particular product back. Allow the seller to rectify that by exchanging those goods."
Mabuza urges consumers to take the matter to the NCC, if a shop refuse to accept back their goods.
"Report to us if your right to exchange the goods that have reached their sell by date, has been denied. There we say that person [the seller] is non-compliant," she emphasised.
Expired condoms, washing powder, and drinks were some of the products unearthed when a team of multi-sectoral law enforcement agencies raided several businesses and retail outlets in the highly populated area of Pretoria West.
At one shop, "Dubai Restaurant and Takeaway Supermarket", the officers closed down the shop, awaiting health inspectors to arrive and conduct a thorough check on the goods being sold.
The officers discovered that the Sunlight washing powder being sold there had expired as far back as 2016. The Lovers Plus condoms had expired -- some a few years ago.
The shop was closed down by law enforcement officers as it breached municipal by-laws and legislation regarding proper labelling of products, but moments later, the shop opened and customers started streaming in.
Mabuza said the raids were not targeted at businesses owned by foreign nationals.
"We have taken a whole street, and we were going to each and every shop. We were not looking at who is the owner of the store ... as long as they are selling, we wanted to check. In this instance, our focus was really on food, and the premises that are selling food. We went into all the stores that are selling food," she said.
"What is interesting is that all the shop owners were welcoming, they were open - both South Africans and foreign nationals. They all allowed us to do our work, we did not have any issues of being barred from entering. Even when we closed down some of the shops, they gave us of the specimens willingly."
Agencies including the NCC, the Tshwane Metro Police Department, the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards, the Companies and Intellectual Property Rights Commission (CIPC) pounced on the businesses adjacent to the Quagga Mall, and closed several of the shops which did not comply with the law.
According to National Consumer Commission spokesperson Trevor Hattingh, the raids were part of the enforcement agencies' efforts to conduct compliance inspections and to "clarify government’s stance on the issues raised by communities to business".
Several small businesses in Gauteng have been looted, as residents accuse foreign shop owners - of manufacturing "fake food and drinks in their shops".
- African News Agency (ANA)