Posted: June 17, 2021
The Deputy Minister of the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ms Nomalungelo Gina reminded students from the University of Cape Town-Faculty of Law that they need to take interest in consumer rights.
Speaking at a virtual consumer education webinar hosted by the National Consumer Commission (NCC) in partnership with the University of Cape Town and the National Credit Regulator (NCR), Gina said consumer protection is a specific challenge in South Africa, where many local consumers are vulnerable due to lack of financial literacy. Gina said pyramid and related schemes are giving consumer protection bodies’ sleepless nights as they mushroom on a daily basis masquerading as investment opportunities.
“It is imperative for every consumer to understand the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and be able to distinguish between a pyramid scheme and an investment opportunity,” she said.
During the workshop, the NCR focused on reckless lending and affordability assessments. Ms Leanne Schwartz said they have investigated a number of complaints against unscrupulous credit providers who offer credit especially to young people without doing proper affordability assessment and offer credit at excessive or prohibited costs (e.g. charging interest above the rate allowed by the NCA).
“The purpose of the NCA is to promote and protect the social and economic welfare of South Africans by ensuring an equitable and accessible credit market,” she said.
Mr. Ludwe Biyana, Senior Legal Advisor at the NCC said since the National Lockdown, the Commission has received a number of complaints about non-delivery of goods purchased online.
“Online shopping is becoming fashionable these days and this comes with people “establishing” online stores with the purpose of scamming unsuspecting consumers. The role of the NCC is to investigate a relationship between a supplier and a consumer. We have also seen a number of complaints where young people purchase from suppliers abroad. The Commission does not have jurisdiction outside the country,” said Biyana.
Consumer protection is an important component of every modern marketplace that is effective, efficient and equitable. Deputy Minister Gina said the country needs more consumer law expects.
“We need more law experts in fighting for consumer rights. I am pleased that the NCC took a step to foster relations with the University of Cape Town. This engagement with Law students must also be seen within the context of propagating interest towards Consumer Law. As law students, your role is to take issues of consumer protection to the general public,” Gina concluded.
Issued by the National Consumer Commission
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Issued by: The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (the dtic)
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