POLOKWANE – The multi-sectoral operation, where CDM partnered with officials from the Polokwane Municipality, Department of Home Affairs, SAPS, Departments of Health, Economic Development, Environment and Tourism and the Traffic Department, saw many illegal immigrants being arrested as well as many shops’ expired foodstuff, cool drinks and beer being confiscated to be destroyed.
“This is an operation against informal grocery businesses that sell foodstuffs to vulnerable sections of our communities just because they are purportedly convenient and cheaper than those in chain stores,” Mpe said when he launched the operation, emphasising they were not targeting foreign-owned shops in order to perpetuate any stereotype or victimisation of foreign nationals. “We are going to attend to any store owned by anyone – both South African and non-South African citizens,” he said. He added widespread reports of proliferation of small shops that operate without licences and also those that continue to sell food items despite having past sell-by and use-by dates, cannot be ignored.
You might also want to read: [TOP STORY] Health Minister declares Listeriosis outbreak officially over
“The health and wellbeing of our people remains of primary concern to us and we are required by the National Health Act to do inspection as part of our environmental health, to ensure food manufactured or sold to consumers is safe and sound for consumption. This is therefore done to complement the daily activities or inspections conducted by Environmental Health Practitioners in different areas and to ensure an impact is made in dealing with the illegal sale of unsound foodstuffs to communities,” he said.
In cases where a shop owner or a worker was in the country illegally, Home Affairs immigration officials and SAPS made arrests for contravening the Immigration Act and took the necessary steps.
Mpe said he was pleased there has not been any case reported of unrests, violence or looting in the district, and encouraged residents not to take the law into their own hands, but rather join this campaign and report such incidences to relevant authorities.
The number where incidents of expired food can be reported is 0800 666 777. Mpe thanked stakeholders and expressed CDM’s appreciation to the Polokwane Municipality for availing a compactor truck on stand-by to load and dispose of any unhealthy food to the nearest landfill site.
The operation was deemed successful, with 15 shops investigated in Polokwane. Expired goods were found in most shops and plans are underway to close 12 shops operating without the necessary certificates and licences. Seven people were arrested for possesion of dagga, 22 illegal foreign nationals were arrested and one 9mm firearm was recovered.
In Seshego, 20 shops were searched, and expired and unsound food were found in 19 of these shops. None of these shops had certificates or licences to operate and the shops will be closed. Eight foreign nationals were arrested
In Mankweng, 10 shops were investigated, none of which had certificates or licences to operate and in all these shops expired food was found.
The crackdown was rolled out in the Polokwane CBD, Westenburg, Seshego and Mankweng. The operation will continue in other local municipalities during the month.