The KwaZulu-Natal department of economic development, tourism and environmental affairs has begun negotiations with provincial management of the popular Spar supermarket franchise with the view of terminating the contracts of franchise owners who are found guilty of unfair price hikes during the coronavirus outbreak and national lockdown.
According to MEC Nomsa Dube-Ncube, the termination of contracts for the management and control of Spar shops will strengthen the department’s zero-tolerance policy towards price gougers, who are using the coronavirus outbreak to sell much-needed food and other products at inflated prices.
“We are aware as the department that there are currently over 900 independently owned Spar stores in the country, with hundreds located throughout the corners of KwaZulu-Natal,” said Dube-Ncube in a statement.
She acknowledged the fact that the holding company has strict regulations that are aimed at ensuring Spar’s positive brand image.
“It is for these reasons that we welcome the decisive action by the leadership of Spar in KwaZulu-Natal. The willingness to terminate the contracts of the management and control of Spar by franchise owners is a clear demonstration of patriotism. Undoubtedly, history will judge them positively,” she added.
Dube-Ncube further encouraged the group to continuously demonstrate that they put the interests of ordinary members of society on top of the agenda before calling upon other retailers to follow this example.
The department assured the public that senior officials from Consumer Protection Services are currently processing hundreds of complaints.
“We have an enduring partnership with the South African Police Service, the National Consumer Commission, the National Competition Authority and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa,” added Dube-Ncube on behalf of the department.
The department has received thousands of messages from consumers welcoming the arrest of the owner of Longberry Meat Market in Phoenix.
He was arrested for contravening the Consumer Protection Act Regulations and the Disaster Management Act Regulations.
If found guilty, the owner will pay a R1 million fine or up to 10% of his business’s annual turnover. In addition, there is a possibility of imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.
(Compiled by Kaunda Selisho)