Police pounce on counterfeit goods

Somali shop owners are in a panic after a video allegedly taken by local police at some of their shops was doing rounds on social media this week.

In the video taken in a shop in Lwandle, a police officer can be heard questioning the expiry date on the meat sold at the Somali shop.

The incident occurred on Monday 27 August and shop owner Yusuf Ahmad (25) claims the video has led to trouble for foreign shop owners.

“The expiry date of the chicken says 2019, but the police said it has expired,” he alleged.

Expiry dates are determined by the processing company. “We buy packaged chicken and have control over the expiry date. People should go to the [processing] companiesto inquire about the expiry dates.”

Ahmad said the police did not arrest the shop owners or confiscate any goods during the visit.

“But why did they make the video and put it out there as if we are doing something wrong?” he asked. “We do not sell expired food here. If the police are creating trouble, who will we run to when people come to attack us tomorrow?”

Vuyo Dyosi, a resident, claimed goods sold at some spaza shops are often expired.

“They have chicken with no ‘best before’ dates and we do not know where it comes from. Health inspectors must check what is sold in these shops.”

Abdikar Mohamed of the Somali Association says Somalis believe in the rule of law, and no-one has come forward with evidence substantiating claims on social media.

“If the allegations are true, South Africa has law enforcement agencies and people should report it to them,” he said. “People should refrain from making unfounded statements as these may lead to unnecessary panic and give rise to xenophobic attacks.”

Lieutenant Colonel Xolani Williams confirmed there was a joint operation between the police and Metro Police, but did not comment on the alleged video.

“Counterfeit goods were confiscated from Somali shops,” he related. “The operation took place in Lwandle on Monday and six Somali shops were randomly visited to check if counterfeit items being sold.

“On searching these shops, police found and confiscated the following items: shoe polish, pens, sanitary towels and Vicks Vaporub.”

Police warned shop owners not to buy and sell counterfeit goods, adding that sting operations will continue periodically.

“Other role-players such as health inspectors will be also be invited to check food items,” said Williams.