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Commission warns about fake price guidelines

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Law enforcement also alerted about bogus investigators

THE COMPETITION Commission has warned the public about a fake price list in circulation that claims to be price guidelines for hygiene and health-care products issued by the commission.

Head of communication at the commission, Sipho Ngwema, said: “The commission has not issued price guidelines for any items. We are, however, investigating unreasonable price increases on essential items in line with the regulations issued by Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel.

“We urge members of the public to ignore this fake list and discourage anyone from circulating it.”

Ngwema advised that anyone who continues distributing the list must be reported to 084 743 0000 “as a matter of urgency”.

“It has also come to the attention of the commission that there are criminal elements claiming to be our investigators who are interacting with businesses, with the intention of soliciting bribes,” Ngwema warned.

He told businesses to note “all our telephonic investigations are accompanied by written correspondence, either before or after a telephone call from an investigator. Further, our investigators can be verified by either calling 012 394 3378 or sending an e-mail to [email protected]”.

“The commission has brought the activities of the bogus investigators to the attention of law-enforcement agencies,” Ngwema said.

Meanwhile, a Gauteng pharmacy found guilty of price gouging during the lockdown by the Competition Tribunal has been ordered to donate essential goods valued at R25 410 to two homes for the elderly, as restitution. Heunis CC, trading as Centrum Pharmacy in Boksburg, came to an agreement with the tribunal to donate hand sanitisers, surgical gloves and face masks.

Tribunal communications officer Gillian de Gouveia said: “The pharmacy furthermore agreed to significantly reduce its mark-up on facial masks with immediate effect for the duration of the national state of disaster.”

De Gouveia said that after it received a tip-off about the pharmacy’s excessive pricing, the commission launched an investigation which found that the pharmacy’s average mark-up of facial masks for March was in excess of 100%.