File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - The Competition Commission’s investigations into the R10 billion school uniform industry has revealed that there are exclusive agreements between a number of schools with a single supplier. 

According to the Competition Commission spokesperson, Sipho Ngwema, the investigation is at an advanced stage. 

Ngwema added that an announcement would be made in the coming weeks. 

The latest findings by the Commission are expected to reduce the cost of school uniforms countrywide. 

This comes after the cost of uniforms were reported to be inflated as a result of exclusive agreements between a single supplier and a number of schools. 

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Ngwena states some of the findings so far include:

Over a third of private schools and former Model C schools were found to have exclusive agreements with school uniform suppliers. Of these, 87% of private schools and 53% of former Model C schools have just one exclusive agreement.

The majority of schools which have entered into exclusive agreements for the supply had not done so through open tenders across all provinces. These contracts had existed for a number of years, with the earliest contract being made in 1974.

Following this investigation, the Commission is likely to take serious steps. This includes the enforcement of a circular which was issued by the Basic Education Department in May 2015. This circular stated that school uniforms should be as generic as possible, in order for it to be obtainable from a number of suppliers. 

Meanwhile, just last month, the manager at Gem Schoolwear in Durban, Mohamed Pancor, said there would be no specials on school uniforms in January. 

Pancor added that he did not understand why parents left buying uniforms until the last minute. 

"No matter whether parents buy now or later, in January, the prices are the same. However, parents who buy now avoid long queues and have the advantage of getting what they want. Late shoppers have to wait to be served and stand a chance of not getting items", said Pancor. 

According to their current price list, Gem Schoolwear charges the following for a typical size 10-12 uniform:

Boys short pants              - R75

Boys long pants               - R175

Boys short sleeve shirt    - R70

Boys long sleeve shirt      - R75

Girls dress                        - R175

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