War on piracy

Friday, December 2, 2011

Johannesburg - The price of a bootleg DVD on the side of the road might seem appealing, but giving in to the temptation makes you just as guilty as the person who sells you the pirated goods.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has appealed to South Africans to rather go to a legitimate retail store for the genuine article - whether it's DVDs, CDs or clothing.

Speaking at the launch of the National Anti-Piracy Campaign on Friday, Mthethwa said piracy was a crime against the country's economy and strengthened partnerships were needed to deal with the scourge.

"The impact of this sort of crime is negatively affecting the economic growth of our country ... Some of the goods are illegally sent into the country by syndicates and that is why we will be working with our counterparts from the region and internationally to tackle this challenge," said Mthethwa, who was flanked by police top brass, including Gauteng police commissioner Mzwandile Petros.

They had conducted four separate operations across Johannesburg on Friday morning where they raided stalls selling pirated merchandise. Petros said the campaign had been effective as they confiscated tons and tons of goods.

He said it had already seen the seizure of over R50 million worth of counterfeit goods, while arresting 30 people, mostly immigrants. The drive is expected to be rolled out to the rest of the country.

The campaign is hoped to go a long way to convincing people to go original, especially with music. Efforts by musicians and their lobby groups appealing to the public not to buy counterfeit products has had little or no impact as piracy has continued to spiral in recent years.

"We shall not allow criminals to destroy our artists' legacies because such acts are tantamount to daylight robbery. That is why from now on, we want to clean out the streets," said Mthethwa.

Musician Mzwakhe Mbuli, who has been vocal about piracy in the music industry, welcomed the campaign, saying intensified mobilisation against the scourge was needed.

"People who buy fake music are crippling the musicians and discouraging emerging artists. This also hits the country's economy hard because as artists, we pay tax but the culprits don't."

The minister sent a stern warning to those who buy fake goods.

"We will arrest perpetrators who deal with counterfeit and illegally imported goods to ensure that they get the severest punishment," he said, adding that it was tantamount to murder.

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