Home South African Commission warns against price gouging amid food shortages

Commission warns against price gouging amid food shortages

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The goods and services in question relate to basic food and consumer items, emergency products and services, medical and hygiene supplies as well as emergency clean-up products and services.

The aftermath of the looting that took place at a supermarket in Chris Hani Mall in Vosloorus. Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NATIONAL Consumer Commission (NCC) has warned suppliers not to inflate prices of essential items listed under Consumer and Customer Protection and National Disaster Management Regulations and Directions, issued in terms of Regulation 350 of Government Notice 43116 (Regulation 350).

This comes after reports of possible food shortages in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng following public unrest.

The commission said regulation 350 read with sections 40 and 48 was gazetted by the government to prevent suppliers from profiteering during the period of the National Disaster and to protect consumers against unfair, unreasonable or unjust pricing.

The goods and services in question relate to basic food and consumer items, emergency products and services, medical and hygiene supplies as well as emergency clean-up products and services.

A supplier or person contravening these regulations could be fined up to R1 million, a fine of up to 10% of a firm’s annual turnover, or imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months.

Consumers have been encouraged to monitor the market and report any suspicious unfair price increases of these goods and services.

Acting Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza said Sections 40 and 48 of the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) make it a prohibited conduct for a supplier to increase their prices unconscionably.

“Section 48 states that a supplier must not offer to supply, supply or enter into an agreement to supply goods and services at a price that is unfair or unconscionable. Unfair, unreasonable or unjust pricing (price gouging) is when a supplier increases prices of goods or services that do not correspond to or not equivalent to the increase of providing that service or good,” she said.

“The NCC will continue with its efforts of implementing the provisions of the CPA by reducing and ameliorating any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumer”, she said.

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