The National Consumer Commission (NCC) has warned suppliers against excessive price hikes on essential goods, following reports of possible food shortages in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Last week, both provinces were hit by a spate of looting and destruction to businesses, including retail stores and farms, leading to concerns about food shortages and panic buying.
But the NCC’s acting commissioner, Thezi Mabuza, has warned businesses recovering from the unrest that section 40 and 48 of the Consumer Protection Act prohibits unreasonable price increases.
“Section 48 states that a supplier must not offer to supply or enter into an agreement to supply goods and services at a price that is unfair or unconscionable,” Thezi said.
The act covers medical and hygiene products and services, basic food and consumer items and emergency products and services.
Companies and people who contravene the regulations face a fine of up to R1 million, imprisonment for up to a year, or a fine of up to 10% of the company’s annual turnover.