Police and municipal officials investigate food at a spaza shop during the blitz.
Following recent deaths and casualties of children and people in South Africa as a result of expired and illegal food at spaza shops, the Madibeng Municipality embarked on a spaza blitz recently to check up and enforce compliance.
The blitz, in collaboration with the South African Police Service, Madibeng Fire Services, Home Affairs and Bojanala Platinum District Municipality’s Department of Environmental Health, followed complaints to the Office of the Executive Mayor in Madibeng from communities in the Madibeng area about local shops selling unhealthy and expired food to residents.
The Blitz operations aim to establish whether the wholesale and spaza shops are compliant with regards to business licences, certificates for perishable foods, documentation for foreign nationals, building regulations, fire safety and illicit trade.
During the first operation in Mothutlung, businesses were found to be non-compliant in a number of areas and were served with notices and fines according to the relevant legislation. Should these businesses fail to correct the identified issues in the stipulated period, further action will be taken against them.
“Some of the contraventions included the sale of illicit goods, such as prohibited skin-lightening creams that contain substances such as mercury, which can pose a serious health hazard. Expired and damaged goods were also found on the shelves. All of these were confiscated and destroyed.
The buildings also had exposed electrical cables and there was no emergency equipment in case of a fire. Many of the businesses had gas cylinders stocked inside the buildings illegally, and all the businesses had sleeping quarters within the buildings designated for business, which is strictly prohibited. Some of the employees who are foreign nationals also failed to produce the documents required for a legal stay in the country. They were apprehended by immigration officers from the Department of Home Affairs,” the municipality said.
“Unfortunately, during the operation, some community members assisted the shop owners by hiding illicit and expired goods in their homes when the business owners were tipped off. Anyone found to be complicit in such actions is defeating the ends of justice and may be charged.”
The blitz operations will continue in other areas of Madibeng.