Are shopkeepers reaping huge profits from capitalizing on food shortages?
Food shortages are part of the fallout of a week of unrest and looting in Kwazulu-Natal.
People living in the province now have to contend with long queues and rising prices as they try to feed their families.
Are the skyrocketing food prices the result of profiteering in a crisis or something else? asks consumer journo Wendy Knowler.
She says the consumer protection unit of the KZN Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs is investigating after receiving complaints of alleged price gouging.
"The Consumer Protection Act makes it a prohibited conduct for a supplier to increase their prices unconscionably, in a way that does not correlate to an equivalent expense in the cost of providing that service or good."
Sanctions for contravening these regulations include a fine of up to R1 million.
Examples of alleged profiteering include a franchised Pick n Pay store in Phoenix selling 5 litres of sunflower oil for R220.
This outraged locals who pointed out that the shops in that area had been protected by the local community, Knowler says.
The 'big four' denied any gouging.Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Pick n Pay explained that because of the disruption to supply chains, some franchised stores had to buy goods at higher prices outside its distribution network.
“We have therefore asked our franchisees in KZN to source essential goods from our own supply chain, rather than buy outside."
The supply and demand principle also apparently kicked in with airfares.
I started getting complaints from Durbanites... who were trying desperately to get out, literally buying one-way tickets... The prices were going up to R3,300...Wendy Knowler, Consumer journalist
Listen to Knowler elaborate on various incidents of alleged profiteering reported to her:
Source : Boikutso Ntsoko/Eyewitness News