Thursday, 31 December 2020

Bloemfontein: The Free State has been hard at work together with law enforcement agencies to protect residents from unscrupulous business practices.

The provincial Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs has been providing Consumer Protection Services to residents as part of its mandate.

According to the department, this year has presented additional challenges due to the national COVID-19 lockdown as many businesses unduly hiked prices, as well as sold expired and illicit goods.

“As we create our own economy, we have to make sure that our people are treated fairly and get value for their money from the products or services they procure,” Free State MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Makalo Mohale said on Wednesday.

The MEC recently inaugurated the Consumer Affairs Court made up of 10 respected legal practitioners with special interest in consumer rights.

In an effort to protect consumer rights, the department working together with other law enforcement agencies has this year conducted 720 inspections across 92 businesses and residential areas throughout the Free Sate.

Similarly, many businesses have been reported for unlawful and unfair treatment to numerous consumers in the Free State.

“To date, 76 customers have reported cases to the department’s Consumer Protection office valued at R3 038 805. Thirty-five of these cases have since been resolved at investigation stage.

“In the in 24 cases before the Consumer Court, during November and December, 11 cases, have been decided with 13 cases remaining on the roll. The Consumer Affairs Court litigates on consumer disputes that have not been resolved at investigation level.” the department said.