The ANC is concerned with the surge in the illicit sales of expired and fake consumable goods and potentially harmful food products.
In a statement on Wednesday, the party said these products were said to be manufactured by operators of small informal shops and sold to unsuspecting and vulnerable consumers in various parts of the country, in particular, working-class communities in townships, villages and cities.
“The health and wellbeing of our people are of primary concern to the ANC.
“The fact that this is leading to instability and violence is a disturbing development,” the party’s spokesperson Pule Mabe said in a statement.
The party said video footage making the rounds on social media revealed illicit, expired or fake goods sold at these outlets has understandably angered communities.
“Some are beginning to take the law into their own hands and are conducting their own inspection, manhandling suspects and destroying what they find to be expired and allegedly fake food products.
“We call on the people not to take the law into their own hands and further encourage them to report such incidences to relevant authorities,” Mabe said.
The governing party said the country’s democratic dispensation guaranteed consumers a right to quality service, and safe and quality goods, especially foods.
“Chapter 2 of the Consumer Protection Act must be implemented without hesitation as this is an emotive matter, it touches every South African citizen,” Mabe said.
The ANC called on relevant authorities such as the National Consumer Commission, the department of health, and municipal authorities to do on-spot investigations with health inspectors and 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,” the party said.
The party further called on the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS), the business community, chambers and other interested parties to work with communities to monitor the movement of these expired products as this also had serious trade ramifications.
“Illicit trade is an economic leakage that can destroy small and medium enterprises in the food production value chain.
“As we stated during the outbreak of the listeriosis, all food products should adhere to basic standards of hygiene and the department of health should conduct regular visits to ascertain conformity of products with all relevant legislation,” Mabe said.
The ANC commended municipalities such as the Ekurhuleni metro where municipal officials had already undertaken a campaign to remove harmful products from unsuspecting consumers’ shelves.
“We urge all other municipalities to do the same, as the sale of illicit food products is not only harmful but also amounts to an act of serious criminality, which may lead to the loss of life.
“Act if there are people found to be knowingly and deliberately selling harmful, expired and rotten food to our people.
“They must be immediately arrested and be prosecuted. The rotten, expired food is a health hazard and detrimental to the wellbeing of South Africans. South Africans must remain vigilant,” Mabe said.
The ANC called on its branches to embark on consumer protection awareness through the #ThumaMina Campaign to ensure citizens were protected from being sold harmful products.
“We must do our part during the door-to-door campaigns, working together with the police and food inspectors, to check the sell-by date and origin of the products sold in our communities to rid our societies of illicit and harmful goods.”
Meanwhile, reports have surfaced of several foreign owned shops being looted in parts of Soweto.
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