According to a recent Fin24 article, 11 firms are being investigated for selling products such as face masks and hand sanitisers at inflated prices amid the Covid-19 crisis.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced strict regulations to prevent businesses from hiking prices excessively for certain products – such as basic foods, personal care and hygiene products, as well as key medical supplies like surgical masks and gloves.
The firms will be investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted.
Penalties for flouting the regulations include:
- R1 million in fine;
- A fine of up to 10% of a company’s turnover; or
- One year in jail.
An international problem
The problem of price gouging amid the Covid-19 crisis isn’t just a local one. The LA Times has reported that Amazon has suspended more than 3 900 selling accounts in the US for violating its fair pricing policies.
This amounts to well over half a million offers, according to the online marketplace.
Amazon has subsequently deployed a team to identify and investigate “unfairly priced” products that are in high demand, such as protective masks and hand sanitiser.
Florida’s Attorney General Ashley Moody has issued more than 40 subpoenas because of alleged price gouging on “essential commodities” through accounts on Amazon.