Foreign-owned shops were looted amid allegations that they sold expired food and items with counterfeit labels. Picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso Africa News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The City of Ekurhuleni on Thursday, told the South African Human Rights Commission of inquiry that they recently seized goods, including soft drinks and cooking oil, which is suspected to be counterfeit in spaza shops.

Jerry Chaka said samples of questionable food‚ confiscated during an inspection in the Tembisa area a week ago‚ had been sent to the National Health Laboratory Services.

“We were able to pick up cold drinks of a different colour than others and were able to obtain them‚ carry out sample testing‚” Chaka said.

Chaka was speaking at the hearings in the Inquiry into allegations that foreign shop owners in townships sell fake and expired goods.

The probe follows a backlash in the form of looting and unrest at spaza shops owned by foreign nationals in and around Soweto.

Attending the hearings was the South African Spaza, Tuck Shop Association, Consumer Goods Council SA, Tiger Brands as well as the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.

An official from Consumer Goods Council Matlou Setati told the commission that consumers must make it a point that they check if the products have barcodes because this helps to track where products come from and its contents.

"No person may sell goods without giving a consumer information about the product, every product and its labelling is regulated," Setati said.

Setati said more inspectors are needed on the ground and they must be equipped to identify fake goods.

Rose Nkosi from the South African Spaza &Tuckshop Association told the commission that section 22 of the constitution indicates that the right to choose trade, occupation or freely is a right of citizens, not foreigners.

She said refugees who have turned into spaza shop owners must be dealt with by officials

She reiterated that there were a lot of items that have been sold to people that were counterfeit.

"It’s not that right that people who are in the country illegally are allowed to trade," Nkosi said.

On Wednesday, the SAHRC heard that some of the shops in the West Rand are used for sleeping purposes at night and toilets in the same working space.

Somali Community Board Member Amir Sheik said their members irrespective of their illegality, have the right to be educated on their rights to trade within the country.

"If we work together with communities through the government's intervention we can eradicate the misconceptions communities have about Somali owned businesses," Sheik said.

African News Agency (ANA)