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War on expired goods

Residents of Kuruman are sick and tired of buying expired goods from tuck shops in the neighbourhoods.

The residents claim the food they buy at foreign nationals’ shops are expired and some products are fake.

Over the past three weeks, the Dikwankwetla Forum in Kuruman has been confiscating these expired goods from the shops and burning these.

Olebogeng Leserwane of the forum said they would not stop confiscating expired products at shops until government and other stakeholders intervened.

On Friday (31/08) the shops in Kuruman town were searched. Some of the goods were found to have expired about a year ago.

Shop owners had no valid explanation as to why they had not removed the expired goods from the shelves.

These type of searches are not only taking place in Kuruman, but it has become a national intervention.

The community members lauded the Dikwankwetla Forum for their interventions.

Tshiamo Molaolwe wrote to the forum “your great work is noted . . . don’t stop”.

Tshepo Mohapi wrote: “Open a case, you are protecting the community against toxic goods, which they (the police) should be doing, but obviously not interested . . . they should be assisting you to close the place down for the search to happen. I’m grateful for the responsible shop owners.”

The National Consumer Commis­sion (NCC) says in a statement it is working on a strategy to deal with allegations of illicit (fake) and potentially harmful food products, said to be manufactured by operators of small informal shops, and sold to unsuspecting, vulnerable consumers in various parts of the country.

According to the NCC, it has already begun to engage with relevant authorities, including the South African Police Service, the National Department of Health and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications, about issues that have been raised on social networks, and is coordinating the formulation of a strategy to best deal with the allegations and the perpetrators, of what appears to be criminal activities.

Ebrahim Mohamed, NCC commissioner, said that the NCC was gathering information, as well as evidence related to the allegations. Mohamed called on the public to work with the authorities in this regard.

“Whilst we condemn any effort by businesses to expose consumers to any form of harm, we appeal to communities to not take the law into their own hands. As authorities, we are working on mechanisms to decisively and rationally deal with the allegations and the perpetrators, within the confines of the law,” Mohamed said.

Boitumelo Babuseng, DA constituency head for the Joe Morolong Local Municipality, called on the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, to ensure that consumers are better protected from the recent flooding of expired foodstuffs and goods with faked labels, onto the market.

“The sale of expired food or goods with fake labels has a debilitating effect on the provincial economy. It also poses a significant health risk to consumers, especially those in rural areas who do not have many shopping options and are often limited to the choices presented by one or two shops.

“Recently, a community forum from Kuruman confiscated and destroyed goods from tuck shops which had expired.

“It is regrettable that community members cannot rely on the ANC-led provincial government to implement legislation around consumer protec­tion but must instead conduct their own inspections to ensure the safety of consumers.”

Pule Mabe, national spokesperson for the ANC, said in a statement it called on the relevant authorities such as the NCC, the Department of Health, municipal authorities to do an on-spot investigation with health inspectors, remove the fake products and expired goods.

“Municipalities must also undertake public education programmes on health and safety food standards as part of empowering local businesses and communities.

We further call on the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), business community, chambers and other interested parties to work with communities to monitor the movement of expired products as this also has serious trade ramifications. Illicit trade is an economic leakage, that can destroy small and medium enterprises in the food production value chain.”

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