The Department of Trade and Industry has published a new gazette which introduces price controls to prevent sellers from taking advantage of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
In a briefing on Thursday (19 March), DTI minister Ebrahim Patel said that sellers would not be allowed to raise prices by more than the increases in the cost of inputs used to make them.
Suppliers must also ensure that good must be distributed equitably and preference to certain retailers cannot be given. They must also maintain adequate stocks of goods.
The gazette will also prevent medical companies from increasing prices related to the testing, prevention and treatment of the Covid-19 and its associated diseases.
The list of goods which will be price-controlled include:
- Toilet paper;
- Hand sanitiser;
- Facial masks;
- Disinfectants and cleaners;
- Surgical gloves;
- Surgical masks;
- Disinfectant wipes;
- Antiseptic liquids;
- All-purpose cleaners;
- Baby formula;
- Disposable nappies;
- Cooking oils;
- Wheat flour;
- Maize meal;
- Long-life milk;
- Canned and frozen vegetables;
- Canned, frozen and fresh meat, chicken or fish;
- Bottled water.
The gazette states that resellers will face strict penalties if they are found to be price gouging. These include
- A fine of up to R1 million,
- A fine of up to 10% of a firm’s turnover.
- Imprisonment not exceeding 12 months.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in South Africa jumped to 150, president Cyril Ramaphosa said on Thursday (19 March).
This new figure is up 30% from the previous overnight tally of 116 infected, with 34 new cases.
“The level of infection has now risen to 150, and that for us is concerning, because that already tells us that if you extrapolate that, it could start to rise in greater number.
“This reinforces our message about social distancing, that we should as much as possible reduce gatherings of people and not go beyond 100,” he said.