Non-compliant businesses shut down in Free State

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

A Free State government-led blitz has netted 17 suspects for hiking prices on essential services and goods during the COVID-19 lockdown, among other contraventions.

With the five week-long Disaster Management Regulations expected to have a dire impact on consumers and small businesses, the provincial MEC for Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Economic Affairs, Makalo Mohale, on Monday embarked on an operation aimed at monitoring compliance.

The MEC, accompanied by Department officials and law enforcement agencies, visited Bulfontein, Ventersburg, Reddesburg, Smithfield, Memel, Bothavillle and Bloemfontein for noncompliance to the Covid-19 Disaster Management Regulations.  

During the blitz several businesses were found to be operating without valid municipal permits, overpricing food, not complying with health and safety laws and not observing laws governing asylum seekers.

Among the 17 shop owners arrested were five illegal immigrants. The operations saw nine shops being shot down.

“It was discovered that there is lot of foreign nationals who are not properly documented who are running spaza shops in many towns and townships. Most businesses are not registered in terms of the Business Act 71 of 1991,” said the department in a statement.

The municipalities have been alerted to the violations. However, the department has vowed to work with local authorities to ensure compliance.

The department acknowledged that the lockdown has had a devastating impact on businesses across the country.

The clothing and textile sector in the Free State, which provides employment in Botshabelo and QwaQwa, has felt the effects of the pandemic. There were signs that some of factories may find it difficult to re-start operations post the lockdown.

Other sectors severely affected by the government-imposed restrictions included food, tourism and hospitality, manufacturing, logistics and retail.

“The informal sector (street vendors, motor mechanics, etc) has also been severely affected as most of operators in this sector rely solely on their business to put bread on the table,” read the statement. –