Trade and Industry Minister, Ebrahim Patel, has announced regulations to control the pricing of goods from major retailers in the country. This comes after South Africans embarked on panic shopping sprees.

Patel says there is evidence of unjustified price increases on some essential items by major retailers. He adds that the regulations are in line with the Disaster Management Act, the Competition Act and the Consumer Protection Act.

“Price increases may not exceed the increase in the cost of the raw materials or inputs and the profit levels should not be higher than the period just before the outbreak of COVID-19.

“All retailers will be required to take steps to limit the quantity of goods sold to any individual consumer. The breaches of the regulations can have serious consequences, penalties of up to a million rand, penalties of up to 10% of a company’s turnover with jail sentences of up to 1 year.”

The National Economic Development and Labour Council warned the public against panic buying.

Minister Patel this week urged consumers to stop panic buying as the newly implemented port closures are only meant to limit the movement of individuals and will not have a negative impact on the import of goods into the country.

The critical industries such as healthcare, food and beverages are making sure that their supply chains remain intact.

Patel says that exports are critical to the economy, while the country also needs to keep up with the import of essential goods.

President Cyril Ramaphosa  on Sunday declared a national disaster over the spread of the coronavirus:

The number of coronavirus confirmed cases stands at 150 on Thursday.

Reacting to government’s call on citizens to refrain from excessive buying and stockpiling goods as the coronavirus spreads, Dis-Chem Pharmacies says it will be limiting the number of items consumers can purchase with immediate effect.

Dischem says shoppers will be able to purchase a maximum of six units of any given item throughout Dis-Chem’s store network to minimise the impact of panic buying.