Business Report, October 7 2011 at 05:00am

Ayanda Mdluli

A crackdown on retailers selling contaminated food and defective electronic goods to unsuspecting rural
consumers was announced yesterday by the consumer commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala.

The National Consumer Commission (NCC) would investigate and draft an aggressive strategy to curb
retailers operating in rural areas who sold unsafe and damaged goods to consumers who had limited
knowledge of their rights.

Addressing about 300 delegates from the consumer goods industry in Sandton, Mohlala said imported
electronic products and contaminated foods had made their way into supermarkets and spaza shops in
rural areas.

Some supermarkets were alleged to be selling outdated products such as canned foods, beans and
packaged custards. Other supermarkets were alleged to be selling expired meat that had turned green, as
well as mealie-meal infested with insects.

“We will call on the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and the police to act and use the provisions of the
National Consumer Protection Act to arrest the transgressors,” she said.

Among these supermarkets were Pick n Pay chains Boxer Superstores and Score Supermarkets, and
dozens of spaza shops and supermarkets situated next to taxi ranks

Mohlala said these complaints arose in areas such as the Free State and the North West.

Another problem, identified in low-income areas such as townships and poor residential areas in the cities,
were inefficiencies in refund policies and mispriced products.

Consumers have reported that in many instances, retailers had one price on the shelves, and another,
usually a higher one, at the paypoint, inducing a false payment from the customer and a higher profit for the

The NCC said shops had violated certain sections of the Consumer Protection Act that highlighted
consumers’ rights to return goods found to be unsafe or defective to the supplier without penalty.

This is in contravention of section 23 of the act, which stipulates that the correct prices must be adequately
displayed to consumers in relation to particular goods.

The NCC said its investigations carried out in July uncovered that some Makro, Ackermans, Checkers
Hyper and Game stores had not priced products accordingly.

Makro had 14 products that were not priced properly, Checkers Hyper had nine and Game at the Centurion
Shopping Centre had 22. Sweets and chocolates at Ackermans Menlyn Shopping Centre were not priced
in accordance with section 23 of the act.

Retailers including Skechers World Famous, Rage Menlyn Ladies, Pumpkin Patch South Africa, Hi Fi
Corporation and JFK Everywear had violated sections of the act relating to refunds.

Sarita Van Wyk, the Shoprite group’s spokeswoman, said the company was aware of the provisions of the

. “It is the group’s view that it will not be in the interest of the 39 million customers who support its business
or its more than 95 000 employees to put them at risk by running the business irresponsibly,” she said.

Wim Theron, the general manager of Pick n Pay’s operations division, said the company considered the
guarantee of safe, nutritionally adequate and culturally acceptable food paramount to its business.

He added that food items were “not recycled in any way, shape or form”, and due to the food safety risk,
expired food was not donated to charity organisations. It was destroyed through a wet waste disposal