This week, an investigation conducted by the Competition Commission into the country’s school uniform industry has shown that prices have been inflated.
The commission discovered that more than a third of South Africa’s private and former Model C schools have made exclusive agreements with a single uniform supplier, and have engaged in such contracts from as far back as 1974.
These deals have resulted in uniforms becoming less accessible and increasingly more expensive.
René Miles, an Edgemead resident whose son is going to Grade R, said that she had to shop in three different places for his uniform: Rothmans School Uniforms in Goodwood, Woolworths, and a few items from his school, Edgemead Primary.
The total sum came to more than R1500. “School uniforms are always going to be expensive,” she said.
Another parent, Ulpha Arnold from Sybrand Park, said she and her ex-husband spent about R1300 on their six-year-old daughter’s summer uniform for Pinelands North Primary.
“Everything was purchased at the school,” she said. This included an official school T-shirt, shorts, backpack, socks and shoes.
“I think the pricing was reasonable. Because we bought it at the school, knowing everything had the school branding means I didn’t have to worry about anything,” said Arnold.
Another Grade 1 parent, Waliyyah Samuels from Steenberg, said she spent between R700 and R800 on her son’s Muhammadeyah Primary School uniform. On the issue of pricing, she said: “It was kind of reasonable, considering I didn’t need to go all over the place to get what I needed.”
Samuels had purchased all items for her son’s uniform from Toppers Uniforms in Athlone.
Charmaine van der Vindt from Mitchells Plain said she wasn’t comfortable with the pricing of the uniforms.
Van der Vindt will be sending her daughter to Grade R at West End Primary.
“It works out to more than R1000 for just the uniform, and I’m not happy with that,” she said.
According to reports, Competition Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema, said the investigation was at an advanced stage and an announcement about the results is set to be made in the coming weeks.
The commission’s findings could result in a drop in the price of school uniforms across the country, but for now parents will have to fork out to get their children outfitted for school.