Trade deputy minister slates unethical businesses

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The Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina has conceded that government’s laxity in protecting consumer rights has allowed unethical businesses to prey on consumers.
Gina says consumers are trapped in debt, due to unfair and unethical market practices by corporate businesses. She made the remarks at a national event to observe World Consumer Day, held at Sun City in the North West. Clamping down on non-compliant businesses remains an uphill battle.
“It’s a big struggle. We are trying by all we can do. It’s a big struggle, as I’m saying. We’re trying by all means, as we have heard, even in our discussions with these institutions and agencies that are doing that, even from our side as government we still even need to tighten up the laws even a little bit more,” says Gina.
In Rustenburg, non-complaint businesses were punished for contravening the law.
“I was not aware of it that it doesn’t have expiry dates on it. I just bought it from a normal supplier, and I was not aware that wasn’t compliant and doesn’t have expiry dates and certain SABS numbers,” owner of a business says.
“I didn’t know. But now I know. I will not sell and buy this anymore,” another owner adds.
Consumers are happy to see such initiatives.
“We don’t know where to complain, but when you are here, you give us hope,” a consumer says.
“I’ve learned that as a consumer, I have rights whenever I go to any shop any dealership,” another consumer explains.
“This thing shouldn’t come once in a while or during this day only. It must be done often so that we can be able to impart knowledge to all of us, especially people that are at the rural areas,” a consumer reiterates.
Authorities say more needs to be done to educate consumers about their rights.
“We are talking as your right as a consumer to be treated equal. That would mean that the price that is actually given to me should be the same price that you would enjoy in the market. The second thing is that you have to be treated fairly and that would mean that the contract terms under which you contract should be fair, they should be explained to you in a language that you would understand. They should never be one sided. That would mean that if the supplier has the right to cancel that contract equally, you as a consumer, you’ve got the right to cancel that contract. The third right that I would like to talk to is the right to affirm safe products that we have to get into the market,” says acting national commissioner of the National Consumer Commission, Thezi Mabuza.
The Council for Debt Collectors says a high number of people are battling to pay their debts.
“From our side, what we’re seeing is that a lot of debtors who used to be able to pay are now no longer in a position to pay off those same debts. It’s true people are struggling, it’s hard out there,” says Advocate Andries Cornelius, CEO of the Council for Debt Collectors.
Meanwhile, consumers are calling on government to put in place stringent measures to deal with non-compliant businesses.