Patel threatens jail time for companies found guilty of price inflation

Patel threatens jail time for companies found guilty of price inflation

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) says it’s looking into a number of complaints from consumers accusing retailers of hiking the prices of essential goods.    

Ebrahim Patel DTI minister on price hikes

Minister Ebrahim Patel says his Department has received more than 500 complaints from disgruntled consumers.

Hand sanitizers are among the items in high demand since the country recorded its first COVID-19 Coronavirus case in March  and hand wash has also been flying off the shelves.

Patel says the department will not tolerate the exploitation of consumers, especially during a time of crisis.

“We have seen examples of people seeking to exploit the high demand for certain goods by hiking their prices,” Patel said in Pretoria on Friday.

“These are now being acted on and the full might of the law will be used against companies concerned.”


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He added that companies found guilty of unjust price hikes could face harsh penalties.

“We will not hesitate to charge people criminally under the legislation and they will be out in jail if they are found guilty.

“Companies will be given fines that may put many of those businesses in closure.”

In the coming weeks, the economy is expected to take a knock as businesses are faced with restrictions gazetted by government for the 21-day lockdown period.

Some businesses are grappling with dwindling stocks on shelves, while others have had to close their doors during the national lockdown.

“It’s an unprecedented event in South Africa.”

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