The Competition Commission has slapped Cambridge Food Jozini, in KwaZulu-Natal, with a fine for hiking the price of 25kg maize meal during a lockdown.
Following a complaint, the investigation revealed that before the declaration of the national state of disaster, Cambridge Food Jozini was selling the 25kg top white maize meal at far lower prices.
However, in April, the retailer increased it from R129.99 to R159.99 without a corresponding increase in costs, which contravenes the Competition Act, read together with Regulation 4 of the Consumer Protection Regulations, the Commission found.
“The Competition Commission welcomes the decision of the Competition Tribunal on 28 July 2020 that confirms as order the consent agreement between the Commission and a KZN based company Cambridge Food Jozini, a division of Cambridge Food (Pty) Ltd, and a subsidiary of Massmart Holdings Limited,” the Commission said.
Cambridge Food Jozini has since agreed to reduce its gross profit margin on the 25kg top white maize meal for the duration of a national state of disaster.
In addition, the food retailer will also donate essential goods to Siyaphambili Qondile Home Based Care Project 1 to the value of R24 947.
According to the Commission, it has referred and settled 30 COVID-19 related cases to the total value of R15 380 849.58 of which R5 573 380.88 has been donated to the Solidarity Fund.
“There have also been donations of essential goods to affected communities to the total value of R 551 886.70.”
Meanwhile, the Commission urges firms to comply with the Competition Act during the state of national disaster and desist from exploiting consumers.