Government inspectors uncovered what they called a “disturbing” situation in uMlazi's ward 89, where potentially poisonous food was being sold in spaza shops.
In response, two undocumented foreign nationals have been apprehended by the Department of Home Affairs' Immigration Unit, during a raid on Monday.
According to the Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affair, the inspection team, comprising of officials from the department's Business Regulations and Consumer Protection Unit under the eThekwini Municipality and the Department of Health, were acting to safeguard the interests of the province's residents.
Their efforts were further supported by the South African Police Service (SAPS), Intelligence Officers, and eThekwini Metro Police.
This incident comes in the wake of numerous complaints from township and rural-based spaza shop owners, who have voiced concerns about being pushed out of the market by a syndicate that has infiltrated the spaza shop sector.
Additionally, consumers have expressed unease about their safety and the welfare of children.
The MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Siboniso Duma said the government had launched a campaign to protect local and honest entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas.
To strengthen these efforts, partnerships have been established with law enforcement agencies, the Consumer Commission, National Competition Authority, and the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa.
He added that the government was intensifying its crackdown on manufacturers of counterfeit goods, including fake alcohol, with the KZN Liquor Authority actively protecting over 6,000 legitimate liquor licence holders.
In a move aimed at stimulating the township and rural economy, the Department's Moses Kotane Institute has conducted a comprehensive study on spaza shops across the province.
This study had provided valuable insights into the challenges faced by these businesses.
In line with their commitment, Duma announced a support package for Spaza Shop owners, including:
– An invitation for spaza shop owners to apply for a loan facility of up to R100,000.
– A R20,000 grant to assist with acquiring stock and covering liquidity shortfalls for social grant payouts.
– The provision of speed points for approximately 960 spaza shops to facilitate social grant payments.
– The creation of employment opportunities for about 10 graduates, who will be attached to this programme and earn R10,000 over 24 months.
As part of these efforts, the government has reconfigured the Bulk Buying Warehouse in KwaSithebe, Mandeni, with an investment exceeding R4 million.
The inaugural bulk purchase of food items for spaza shops is valued at more than R4.1 million.
As preparations continue to support legitimate entrepreneurs, the government has pledged to conduct unannounced visits and raids throughout the province.