Nineteen people were arrested on Friday evening after a raid at a Casseldale warehouse in Springs where expired food was found being reprocessed and repackaged.
The arrests were made by officers from the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) and Springs South African Police Service (SAPS).
City of Ekurhuleni MMC for community safety Councillor Phaladi Mmoko said police received a tip-off from the community about the warehouse.
“In the warehouse, situated on Clydesdale Road, officers found several storage facilities that contained expired goods that ranged from chocolates, sweets, chips, carbonated drinks and 20-litre containers full of liquid chocolate.
“At this property, they are re-purposing expired consumables like sweets, chocolate, soft drinks and snacks, and then repackaging and reselling to the community.
“All these illegal actions are done in a very unhygienic environment,” said Mmoko.
Some of the goods found on site had expiry dates from 2010. According to information gathered by officers on the scene, the expired goods were received from a disposal site in Holfontein.
The police are investigating the possibility that some of these products may have been stolen during the hijacking of delivery trucks.
During the raid, it was also found the premises did not comply with legislation governing hygiene for food premises, and the processed food did not comply with legislation on foodstuff, cosmetics and disinfectants.
At present, it is not clear if businesses buying goods from the warehouse were aware they were buying expired food items.
Mmoko said police and the city’s environmental health practitioners would continue to monitor informal food trading in the Ekurhuleni region.
He commended the swift response of the EMPD and SAPS.
“This brings confidence to the community. I can assure the community right now that during Covid-19 or not, we will never shy away from fighting crime,” said Mmoko.
The owner of the warehouse and 18 others were arrested. Mmoko added that more arrests may follow.
The charges range from fraud, employing illegal immigrants, dealing in illicit goods and being in possession of suspected stolen property.
Mmoko urged community members to report any suspicious activities to the EMPD or SAPS by calling 08600 10111.
This article first appeared on Springs Advertiser and was republished with permission.