As part of efforts to boost local economies and ensure that small businesses comply with various regulations, KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs MEC Ravi Pillay recently paid a surprise visit to retail businesses in uPhongolo.
The MEC and officials from labour, health, immigration services and the KZN Gaming and Betting Board discovered expired meat, shut down non-compliant shops, and arrested foreign nationals allegedly working illegally in the country.
The inspections focused on business compliance and Covid-19 regulations. According to a statement released by the MEC’s office, a hair salon and a supermarket were temporarily shut down, to ensure they addressed some safety concerns identified during the inspections.
More than 100kg of meat and other food products, which had a sell-by date from March last month, were confiscated. Pillay said this was an ongoing concern in the province. “Such products pose a health risk to the consumers and are a violation of consumer rights,” Pillay said.
“It is in everybody’s interest to obey the Covid-19 regulations as this will help us avoid an increase in infections which will lead to tighter regulations.” Pillay also handed over two industrial sewing machines and two over-locker sewing machines to two cooperatives in the area.
“This is part of the government’s ongoing support to cooperatives and SMMEs. The department will, within the next three months, make disbursements to more than 1000 Operation Vula beneficiaries,” he said. “The support to cooperatives, however, extends beyond funding disbursements as the department wants to ensure that small businesses are sustainable in the long term. We believe that SMMEs and cooperatives have a very big role to play in the economic recovery efforts.”
During the inspections, four people were arrested on suspicion of being illegal immigrants.
They included two Chinese nationals, who were found working at various business establishments. The MEC accused them of failing to produce immigration documents and they were being detained while investigations continued.
“We are not targeting foreign nationals,” he said.
“We are part of Africa and the world, but we want to ensure that everyone who is in the country is here legally because that also helps us protect them from exploitation.”