Law enforcements agencies, officials and political leaders had a busy weekend across Gauteng as they cracked down on illicit goods, expired food stuffs and enforcement of by-laws which resulted in the closure of non-compliant spaza shops.
On Saturday, Police Minister Bheki Cele, in the company of SAPS National Commissioner General Fannie Masemola, joined the Provincial Commissioner of Police in Gauteng, Lieutenant General Elias Mawela, that led to the destruction of counterfeit goods valued at more than R3 billion in Gauteng Industrial Estate, Clayville.
These included branded and designer items such as caps, shoes, belts, clothes and accessories.
Police spokesperson, Brigadier Athlenda Mathe, said the goods were seized in joint operations by the SAPS and SARS as well as stakeholders that include brand protectors and other law enforcement agencies across the province.
During the launch of the Gauteng Police Safer Festive Season Operation, Cele said the men and women in blue will be taking a harsh stance against criminals this festive season.
This operation, usually conducted annually between October 15 and January 31 in an effort to prevent and combat crime through heightened police operations and visibility, got under way as police destroyed counterfeit products to the value of R3 billion which were seized from various operations this financial year.
“We are sitting at around 3 billion illicit trades here. All these things are counterfeit -- not only here, inside there are big boxes. You realise that there is a fiscal blood bath which the minister will tell us about on November 1,” said Cele.
Saturday’s operation comes hot on the heels of R50 million worth of counterfeit goods seized in Bellville, Cape Town, on October 13.
This operation resulted in the arrest of four people who face charges of contravening the Counterfeit Goods Act as part of the nationwide Safer Festive Season Operations.
In the meantime, also on Saturday, MMC for Public Safety, Dr Mgcini Ntshwaku, took his operation against non-compliant spaza shops to Dobsonville, Soweto.
During this operation which resulted in the closure of a few spaza shops found to be non-compliant with the city’s by-laws, Ntshwaku was joined by MMC for health, Ennie Makhafola, as well as members of the JMPD, EMS and Environmental Health officials.
Tshwaku promised the residents of the city that spaza shop patrollers will be unleashed to close down spaza shops which failed to adhere to strict codes of conduct and regulations governing the handling of foods stuff in the midst of incidents of children dying from unsafe food stuff.
“Within the next seven days, if there is no plan, we are going to close them down completely ... On October 31, we are launching the patrollers.
“We call them JMPD Red Patrollers. We have identified all these spaza shops. These patrollers are going to be trained as peace officers across all the wards.
“They will enforce by-laws and are going to be given the guidelines by the Department of Environmental Health,” he said.
This operation by the MMC also uncovered expired food and medical supplies, including cough mixtures, as well as products bearing bar codes that have been tampered with.