Durban butcher in hot water for inflating meat prices ahead of lockdown
Durban - The owner of Longbury Meat Market in Phoenix, north of Durban, has been arrested for contravening the Consumer Protection Act Regulations and the Disaster Management Act Regulations.
The arrest was confirmed to the Mercury by the Department for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) on Thursday.
MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said her department was intensifying the implementation of a zero-tolerance policy towards price gougers who are using the coronavirus outbreak to sell much-needed food and other products at inflated prices.
Senior officials from the department’s Consumer Protection Services conducted a series of investigations following complaints of price hiking.
The department said the owner of Longbury Meat Market allegedly admitted to hiking prices.
Phoenix police have registered a case.
If the owner is found guilty, he will pay a R1 000 000 fine or up to 10% of his business’s annual turnover. In addition, there is a possibility of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
The Consumer Protection Services also investigated other Durban stores after reviving complaints from consumers.
Officials found the excessive pricing of Savlon at Checkstar Supermarket in Phoenix.
This matter has been referred to SAPS for further criminal investigation.
In Pick n Pay Supermarket in Ballito, Hyper by the Sea in Durban and Pick n Pay in Pietermaritzburg, the department investigated allegations of excessive prices on Lucky Star Tin Fish from R18 to R22 and hand soap from R12 to R17.
This matter has been referred to the National Consumer Commission and Competition Commission for a non-compliance notice to be issued against the supermarket.
Consumers also lodged complaints against SAfair Operations for refusing to issue a refund but instead handed over vouchers after deducting R300 cancellation fee. It has been explained that consumers should not be penalized in view of the national disaster announced by the President Cyril Ramaphosa.
"In order to protect consumers from exploitation during this period of lockdown, the department has engaged the services of the Consumer Goods Scheme Ombudsman," said the department.
The Ombudsman has since issued a statement warning retailers and airlines of the consequences of non-compliance with the Consumer Protection Act. He has emphasised that consumers have the right to refund.
The department said it would intensify investigations of all complaints around excessive pricing by any retailer.
"We have strengthened our partnership with the SAPS, the National Consumer Commission, the National Competition Authority and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.
" A team of experienced officials from the department are on standby to investigate complaints regarding excessive pricing," it said. Contact details are as follows:-
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Email : Consumer.Complaints @kznedtea.gov.za
WhatsApp : 082 458 0706 or 082 374 6660
As consumers, you are entitled to the following rights:
(a) Right to choose;
(b) Right to equality and protection against discriminatory market practices;
(c) Right to disclosure of information;
(d) Right to fair and responsible marketing,
(e) Right to fair and honest dealings;
(f) Rights to fair, just and reasonable terms and conditions;
(g) Right to fair value, good quality and safety;
(h) Right to accountability from suppliers.