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High price of school uniforms to be probed

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Two complaints to the Competition Commission over the high price of school uniforms have already been received.

File image.

Cape Town – Two complaints to the Competition Commission over the high price of school uniforms have been referred for further investigation.

The commission at the start of the year called on parents to alert them if schools did not comply with uniform guidelines issued by the Department of Basic Education.

It followed a 2018 probe during which the commission investigated the supply of school uniforms, and established that various schools had made exclusive supply deals with stockists, which they found to be anticompetitive.

Commission spokesperson Sipho Ngwema said yesterday that they had received two complaints.

“Since the start of the current financial year, the commission has received two new complaints pertaining to the high price of school uniforms (not specifically about whether guidelines have been met or not).

“These complaints pertain to official complaints filed with the commission as well as official cases that have been referred for further investigation or consolidation.

“Some complaints are still in preliminary stages to ascertain whether or not they have merit, and others have been referred to investigation as it seems, at face value, they could be in breach of the Competition Act,” Ngwema said.

In a statement on January 8, Ngwema said the success of the initiative to provide reasonable
and affordable uniforms depended largely on involved and active parents.

“If governing bodies manage schools on behalf of the parents, it cannot be that parents must bear the brunt of expensive prices,” he said.

The commission has been interacting with several schools to help them to build capacity, establish and maintain the necessary expertise to monitor and manage anti-competitive conduct. This includes the phasing out of exclusive agreements and evergreen contracts.

Parents have been asked to continue to monitor anti-competitive conduct in schools and must insist on the governing bodies implementing the uniform guidelines, Ngwema said.

Cape Times