‘Dirty diesel’ in South Africa – petrol stations say skip the cheap stuff

 ·26 Jan 2024

The South African Petroleum Retailers Association (SAPRA), which represents the interest of various petroleum retailers in South Africa, says it supports any measures to investigate reported cases of ‘watered-down’ diesel in the country.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy this week announced that it has its sights on companies – particularly retailers – that have been selling “adulterated” diesel in attempts to cut costs and evade tax.

This comes after the department found that 70 out of 1000 samples it had taken from service stations across the country showed results of ‘watered-down’ diesel – a mix of diesel and illuminating paraffin.

Lebo Ramolahloane, Vice Chairman of SAPRA, said that compliance is “absolutely key” to preventing these practices from continuing and commended the work of DMRE to identify these non-compliant operators.

“Fuel adulteration is definitely not a new problem, however, and one of the reasons SAPRA, together with other key stakeholders in the sector, initially set up a Petroleum Compliance Forum in 2019.

“Its intention was to bring back some level of reform to the petroleum malpractices underway, which inadvertently erode compliant business margins, taxes to the fiscus and impacts the integrity of consumer vehicles to perform optimally on South African Roads.”

SAPRA launched a whistleblower hotline in 2018 and said this has been extremely successful in reporting illicit trade and transport, leading to fines, penalties and suspensions.

Ramaolahloane said unscrupulous operators know that the situation is very difficult to monitor, and both the DMRE and SARS simply do not have enough inspectors on the ground.

“From a retail perspective, it is also very difficult to monitor as the mixing happens at depot level before it reaches our retail filling stations.”

He did, however, confirm that SAPRA members adhere to a very strict code of conduct and in the event there is a problem, motorists can immediately visit the SAPRA website and report any suspicions on their whistleblower hotline.

“We will not hesitate to investigate and, if found guilty, take immediate action against that member in addition to any of the other punitive clauses imposed against them by statutory bodies.

“Unsuspecting consumers are losing money from engine damage while the economy is losing billions in lost revenue.”

The group cautioned South African consumers to be “extremely wary” of buying cheap diesel in the country.

Read: Government going after dodgy diesel stations in South Africa

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