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Stink over hiking garlic, ginger prices could see stores facing fines of up to R1m

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The National Consumer Commission says stores found guilty of price gouging on ginger and garlic could face fines of up to R1million, 10% of a supplier’s annual turnover or 12 months in jail.

The price of ginger has skyrocket as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Picture Ian Landsberg/African News Agency (ANA)

The National Consumer Commission says stores found guilty of price gouging on ginger and garlic could face fines of up to R1million, 10% of a supplier’s annual turnover or 12 months in jail.

Durban – The National Consumer Commission’s warning comes amid investigations in to seven leading retail stores in the country, accused of price gouging on ginger and garlic.

The investigation follows an outcry by consumers in the media including social media platforms, the NCC said in a statement.

There has been an increase in demand for ginger and garlic as many people are using these to boost their immune systems to fight Covid-19.

Some of the countries top retail stores – Food Lovers Market; the Spar Group; Pick n Pay; the Shoprite Group; Boxer Superstores; Cambridge Foods and Woolworths, are being investigated

But Acting Consumer Commissioner Thezi Mabuza said their investigation was not limited to these suppliers.

“We urge consumers throughout the country to monitor the market and where they suspect excessive price increase, they must file complaints with the Commission.”

Mabuza said the Commission initiated the investigation following a public outcry on social media and various media outlets.

“The purpose of the CPA is, amongst others, to reduce and ameliorate any disadvantages experienced in accessing any supply of goods or services by consumers.

The law defines price gouging as an unfair or unreasonable price increase that does not correspond to or is not equivalent to the increase in the cost of providing that good or service.

Consumer and Customer Protection and National Disaster Management Regulations and Directions, issued in terms of Regulation 350 of Government Notice 43116 contains, a list of 22 essential products which are protected from unfair or unreasonable pricing.

“This was done to protect consumers against unconscionable, unfair, unreasonable, unjust or improper commercial practises during the national disaster.

“These allegations, if proven true, would constitute a violation of Regulation 350 and an imposition fine of up to R1 000 000 or up to 10% of a supplier’s annual turnover or even imprisonment for a period not exceeding 12 months will be,” said Mabuza.

Consumers are urged to lodge complaints by contacting the NCC at 0800 014 880 or 012 428 7000 during office hours.

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