Clampdown on KZN businesses flouting Covid-19 rules
Durban - KwaZulu Natal economic development MEC Ravi Pillay yesterday warned of a renewed clampdown on businesses caught flouting Covid-19 lockdown protocols and general trade regulations.
He was speaking following a province-wide operation last week, which netted 121 culprits, including business operators who violated lockdown regulations and general laws governing the retail industry and small businesses.
Government officials and police moved in on 59 businesses, resulting in 37 being closed down or fined for breaching safety regulations.
The crackdown also saw the arrest of 18 illegal immigrants, 24 people for failure to wear a mask in public and 42 people for either breaking the curfew, consuming alcohol in a public place or selling or distributing liquor.
Pietermaritzburg and Midlands Chamber of Business chief executive Melanie Veness welcomed the operation.
“Compliance with business regulations and Covid-19 protocols is absolutely essential if we are to get on top of this pandemic to ensure economic recovery and save lives. If no action is taken, we will all land up paying for the transgressions of a few and the stakes are unacceptably high. We all need to play our part.”
Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Palesa Phili commended government.
"It is particularly encouraging to see the commitment of MEC Pillay and the Business Regulations Unit taking a strong stance in monitoring business compliance with regulations and protocols. Adhering without exception is the only way to contain the infection rate and we welcome the inspections, arrests and fines."
Pillay said while many businesses complied with business regulations and Covid-19 protocols, some continued to show a flagrant disregard.
In a joint operation, the department’s business regulations unit - working together with law enforcement agencies and other government departments - conducted inspections in eThekwini, Abaqulusi, Msunduzi, uMshwathi, uMngeni, Mpofana, Richmond, uMkhambathini, Impendle and Kokstad municipalities.
While the department was reluctant to name and shame the culprits, saying the campaign’s primary objective was to educate and enhance awareness, The Mercury learned that two high-profile retail supermarkets in Vryheid have failed to enforce social distancing or control the number of customers in the shop.
Department spokesperson Bheki Mbanjwa said some supermarkets owned by foreign nationals were found to be trading in prohibited skin lotions suspected of containing dangerous chemicals.
“We found one butchery in New Hanover trading in expired meat, which is not acceptable as this poses a health hazard to consumers.”
Pillay said: “The Covid-19 cases are rising at a worrying rate. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we protect ourselves, our families and those we don’t even know from being infected with the virus. But we must do the basics. These inspections will go a long way in achieving just that, enforcing the basic adherence to the Covid-19 protocols.”
He said these sting operations would continue across the province and it was disheartening so many businesses still flouted basic trade and operating regulations.
“As more businesses resume operations following the festive break, we appeal for stricter adherence to the regulations and protocols. The observance of Covid-19 protocols should be a natural discipline by now. We will continue with our education and where that fails, enforcement will follow.”