More South African businesses found guilty of hiking prices during lockdown

 ·3 Jun 2020

The Competition Tribunal has found two Gauteng mask suppliers guilty of inflating prices since the Covid-19 outbreak.

According to the Competition Tribunal’s spokesperson Gillian de Gouveia, TNT Basic Trading (TNT) admitted to contravening the Competition Act by significantly increasing its mark-up and gross profit margin on FFP2 respiratory face masks from January 2020 to February 2020.

The Boksburg company has since agreed to immediately cease from the excessive pricing conduct, reduce its mark-up on FFP2 respiratory face masks with immediate effect for the duration of the state of national disaster, and develop, implement and monitor a competition law compliance programme.

TNT will also be donating 182 boxes of 3-ply surgical face masks, valued at R150 to the Tsakane Society for the Care of the Aged, Elethu Daveyton Cheshire Home and the Bophelong Empilweni New Life Community Project in Tembisa.

“The Commission further found that TNT has market power in the market for the supply of face masks in the Gauteng province, given the current pandemic and national state of disaster, and its ability to significantly escalate its mark-ups,” the Tribunal said.

Meanwhile, a Krugersdorp hardware store, Auction and Salvage Net (Pty) Ltd, has also been found to have violated the Competition Act.

And while the company has denied excessive pricing claims, it agreed to donate R9 521.74 to the Solidarity Fund, reduce its gross profit margin on facial masks and develop, implement and monitor a competition law compliance programme.

On Monday, the Tribunal reported that it found Babelegi Workwear and Industrial Supplies CC (Babelegi) guilty of excessive pricing in South Africa’s first contested excessive pricing case in the context of Covid-19.

The Tribunal said the local manufacturer of medical facemasks earned a mark-up in excess of 500% between 31 January 2020 and 5 March 2020, by increasing the price of a box of facemasks from R41 to R500.

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