City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said on Tuesday that he was concerned about counterfeit goods-producing factories that remain in operation across the City of Johannesburg. 

Speaking at the release of monthly crime statistics revealing the successes of Operation Buya Mthetho and other policing efforts, Mashaba said that the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) was continuing to register successes in other areas of law enforcement, including preventing more counterfeit goods from hitting the streets.

"In addition to mass producing fake goods like clothing and shoes, these criminals have now moved onto producing fake medicine, including antiretroviral drugs and Panado. In fact, our JMPD officers, working with their counterparts in Tshwane, Ekurhuleni and the province of Gauteng, shut down two makeshift drug labs in Fordsburg and Jet Park, in the east of Johannesburg," Mashaba said.

"I was surprised to find out that the makeshift drug lab in Fordsburg was masquerading as an egg factory. In just two years, JMPD has been part of law enforcement efforts that have uncovered and confiscated counterfeit goods worth a street value of R250 million. A couple of weeks ago, JMPD officers confiscated almost R80 million worth of counterfeit goods from one building alone in the inner city."

Mashaba said the money generated through these counterfeit goods fund even more terrible crimes such as kidnapping and human trafficking through the illegal transportation of undocumented persons into South Africa, who are then kept against their will in these illegal factories and warehouses.

He said the proliferation of counterfeit goods had negative economic consequences for the country, such as scaring away potential foreign investors as no reputable company would invest in a country in which its intellectual property will not be protected.

"Moreover, the more than R80 million in fake goods means an incredible loss to the national fiscus in lost taxes. It also makes one wonder how these goods escaped the country's border and customs agency. More crucially, fake goods mean that South Africans lose out on jobs," Mashaba said.

"The reality is that the producers and traders of these counterfeit goods do not employ South Africans. In a country like ours, which is battling a worsening crisis of unemployment, inequality and increasing crime - a result of the first crisis - it is disheartening that the national government seems content to remain oblivious to calls for them to take decisive action."

The Department of Public Safety in the City of Joburg has been compiling monthly statistics since September this year. The November statistics revealed the biggest culprit to be people driving under the influence of alcohol. Over 800 arrests were made in connection with drunk driving in November. 

African News Agency/ANA