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Report excessive price hikes

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A total of 559 complaints since the announcement of a nationwide 21-day lockdown has been received.

NORTHERN Cape residents who have noticed a price increase in products or a substandard quality of products are asked to contact the Consumer Protector of the Northern Cape.

The Consumer Protector is Advocate Olivier and he can be contacted on 082 812 5627 or 0800 141 880.

Meanwhile, the Competition Commission of South Africa said that it had received a total of 559 complaints since the announcement of a nationwide 21-day lockdown and the subsequent gazetting of several regulations by the MInister of Trade and Industry, Ebrahim Patel, to enable firms to co-operate lawfully and to tackle anti-competitive conduct aimed at profiteering during the State of National Disaster.

“Approximately 250 of these relate to matters that fall outside the scope of the Competition Act as well as the applicable regulations and will therefore not be pursued further,” the Competition Commission’s Sipho Ngwema said.

“The balance are against retailers and suppliers for charging excessive prices for products related to Covid-19 essentials. The majority of the complaints related to hand sanitisers and face masks, followed by toilet paper, flu medication and other products. The commission is prioritising those cases against national retailers and suppliers and also those cases from complainants who are essential service professionals, such as doctors, dentists and police persons.”

Ngwema stated that following inquiries by the Competitions Commission, some large retailers had instituted pricing discipline, including Massmart, who recently announced a price freeze at all its stores (Makro, Cambridge Food, Game and Cash & Carry) for the duration of the national lockdown.

“Spar Group has started sharing with the Commission promotional prices for essential goods for the coming three weeks. The list covers all basic goods such as sugar, detergents, flour, chicken etc.”

He added that independent retailers had also been responsive.

“The Commission has also noted with concern the spiralling prices of agricultural products such as wheat, white maize, sunflower seeds, carrots, onions and tomatoes. There have been complaints streaming in this week in relation to these basic food products, whose spiralling prices hurt the poor the most. The Commission is monitoring these prices in consultation with other stakeholders.”