DESTEA intensify war against harmful business in the Free State
Festive season is the time when many consumers are prone to impulsive buying making them easy targets for harmful business practices. Unscrupulous business people prey on gullible consumers and rob them of their hard earned money. During this time, DESTEA’s consumer education goes on high drive to educate and protect unsuspecting shoppers.
As part of its mandate, DESTEA provides Consumer Protection Services to the people of the Free State in order to educate them about their consumer rights and responsibilities. The service comprise consumer education, consumer complaints investigations, inspections and consumer affairs court/litigations. Recently, MEC Makalo Mohale inaugurated the Consumer affairs court made up of ten (10) respected legal practitioners with special interest in consumer rights.
The year 2020 presented additional challenges as a result of the national lockdown. Many businesses would unduly hike their prices, sell expired and illicit goods. In the fight against this and in the execution of its mandate, DESTEA working together with other law enforcement agencies conducted seven hundred and twenty (720) inspections in ninety two (92) businesses and residential areas throughout the Free Sate. During these operations, 677 were found non-compliant and cases were opened at different police stations.
Similarly, many businesses have been reported for unlawful and unfair treatment to numerous consumers in the Free State. To date, seventy six (76) customers have reported cases to DESTEA’s Consumer Protection Office valued at R3 038 805.00. Thirty five (35) of these cases have since been resolved at investigation stage. In the in twenty four (24) cases before the Consumer Court, during November and December, eleven (11) cases, have been decided with further thirteen (13) cases remaining on the roll. The Consumer Affairs Court litigate on consumer disputes that have not been resolved at investigation level.
MEC Makalo Mohale directed the officials of the Consumer Court to enforce economic justice by applying policy and ensuring the economy is inclusive and fair. “As we create our own economy, we have to make sure that our people are treated fairly and get value for their money from the products or services they procure”, says MEC Mohale. To this end, the Department has initiated the development of the Free State Economic Bill which is currently with the State Law Advisory Services for congruence and conformity. It will then be published for solicitation of comments from the members of public.
The Consumer Protection Service is provided by DESTEA to all citizens who feel aggrieved by businesses in the Free State. This service is free of charge. Consumers are requested to have all relevant information including documents like quotations, receipts, and delivery notes where applicable.
Source: Government of South Africa