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Covid-19: 30 companies investigated for price gouging

JOHANNESBURG – The National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the Competition Commission have launched an investigation into allegations of price gouging by 30 retailers.

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) along with the Competition Commission are investigating 30 retail stores for increasing the price of essentials consumer need to combat coronavirus.

Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel published a list of 22 critical products and categories which he instructed both regulators (the NCC and the Competition Commission) to monitor and ensure no unjustified price increases. Acting Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza said the commission has a critical role to play during this time of need.

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“I like to remind suppliers of goods and services to be mindful of the provisions of Section 3 of the Consumer Protection Act of 2008, said Mabuza. “The Act sets out its purpose which is, amongst others, to reduce and ameliorate any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumers.”

Eleven companies have been notified intention to investigate allegations of excessive price hikes and they have acknowledged the NCC and the Competition Commission communique.

Mabuza confirmed that investigations into the following companies have commenced:

  • Silver Oaks SuperSPAR – Silverlakes, Pretoria East (Gauteng)
  • SPAR in Plattekloof – Plattekloof (Western Cape)
  • North Safety – Paarden Eiland (Western Cape)
  • Checkers Hyper – Kempton Park (Gauteng)
  • National Overalls – Villeria, Pretoria (Gauteng)
  • Makro – Springfield, Durban (KwaZulu-Natal)
  • Clicks – Westgate Mall (Gauteng)
  • Free State Pharmacy – Bloemfontein (Free State)
  • Mopane Pharmacy – Nelspruit (Mpumalanga)
  • Sea Side Pharmacy – Table View (Western Cape)
  • Pick ‘n Pay in Milnerton – Milnerton (Western Cape).

These allegations are also against the excessive price of items or goods like face masks and hand sanitisers. A fine of up to R1 000 000 or up to 10 per cent of a firm’s annual turnover or even imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months will be imposed to a company/retailer found guilty of price gouging.

“I urge all South Africans to continue monitoring the market and lodge complaints should they notice a sharp price increase,” she concluded.

The National Consumer Commission’s toll-free number is 0800 014 880 or 012 428 700.

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