Prices of certain imports such as rice ‘expected to rise’

Bonakele says although prices of essential goods spiked as a result of panic buying, they have since stabilized.

The Competition Commission has resolved pricing issues with Vodacom and MTN.

During an inter-ministerial briefing by ministers on regulations relating to level 3 of the lockdown, spokesperson Tembinkosi Bonakele said the commission had completed its work against mobile operators on findings of excessive prices.

Following a court ruling that found the cellphone networks could afford to reduce data prices, Bonakele confirmed the issues were settled before the lockdown.

“We settled a case with Vodacom and MTN. Prices would be dropped by 30% to 50%,” with free access to certain educational websites.

“The challenge now was to monitor the compliance to those commitments.”

“Little did we know how important this intervention would be,” says Bonakele as the country paddles through different levels of the lockdown regulations.

There were more than 1,500 cases the commission was busy with. Out of those cases, the commission has prosecuted and levelled fines of about R13 million, which have been redirected as donations to the solidarity fund.

He mentioned Dischem was currently under prosecution awaiting a judgement.

Around 30 firms had made admissions to increasing prices unfairly and the tasks now was to monitor and enforce the Competition Act against excessive pricing.

Bonakele conceded that they were aware of companies hiking prices. The commission would continue to ascertain if the price hikes were necessary as prices of certain imports such as rice were expected to rise during different levels of the lockdown as the suppliers face supply challenges.

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