Police joint operation on a mission to rid Joburg inner city of ’fake’ goods
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Johannesburg - A Joint operation of law enforcement officers descended on Jeppe Street in the city centre yesterday to clamp down on shop owners selling counterfeit and illegal goods.
But the Ethiopian community said that this latest raid is one of many organised by a “brand holder” who is employed by clothing companies to confiscate counterfeit goods.
These raids, which have been happening for several years, the community say often result in shopkeepers and customers being manhandled. Authorities often use rubber bullets and tear gas, and the raids are supported by either Metro Police, SAPS and sometimes, the army.
Gezahegn Sumamo Guche, the CEO of the Generation to Generation movement, said, during the raid yesterday, a pregnant woman fainted as she tried to get away from the tear gas. She later had to be taken to hospital.
“Many people have lost an eye, and have been crippled in these raids,” said Guche.
“Our concern is that the South African government is totally ignoring foreign nationals and undermining our businesses.”
He added that they have video and photographic evidence of this.
Lieutenant Colonel Mavela Masondo said the joint operation by South African Police Service, Johannesburg Metro Police Department, Customs Officials and Brand holders raided buildings in the Johannesburg city centre, where they confiscated counterfeit goods to the estimated value of R24.5 million.
Police executed a search and seizure order from the court after information was received about the buildings in which illegal goods were being stored.
Police confiscated many local and international brands, including clothing and sneakers.
“Such operations will continue in Gauteng as long as there are people who are trading in illegitimate and counterfeit goods,” Masondo said.
Last year, police seized fake goods valued at R28 million and made several arrests in Jeppe Street.
In 2019, police faced off with foreign shop owners when the raid turned into a tense stand-off.
At the time, the videos of the police running away from vendors - many of them foreign nationals - caused a massive outcry from the public and various political parties.
Guche said his movement was trying to create jobs with their businesses.
“It is not fair that police shoot (at) us with rubber bullets (sic). We are human beings. They have come and destroyed our livelihoods. We are foreign nationals from different countries who have come here to seek refuge from wars in our countries of birth. Just like South Africans did during the apartheid years.
“It is only some of us who are being targeted by Brand Holders. Not everyone. The South African government does not care about us. We are paying with our lives.”