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Picture: 123RF/DOLGACHOV
Picture: 123RF/DOLGACHOV

Two companies found to have excessively overcharged the SA Police Service (SAPS) for hand sanitiser to the tune of R9.8m at the height of the Covid-19 crisis have been brought to justice.

In an order handed down by the Competition Tribunal, Gauteng-based BlueCollar Occupational Health and KwaZulu-Natal-based Atletico Investments were jointly and severally penalised R3.55m in relation to their bulk supply of 10,000 25l containers of hand sanitiser in 2020.

BlueCollar charged the SAPS R3,550 per container.

The tribunal found that during the hard lockdown, the SAPS desperately needed the product for members at the front line of efforts to contain the pandemic and enforce lockdown restrictions nationally.

In reasons for its decision, the tribunal described BlueCollar’s conduct as shocking in that it exploited the situation by charging excessively for hand sanitiser, which was crucial to combatting the pandemic.

“This is the second excessive pricing case successfully prosecuted by the commission and determined by the tribunal in the context of a public procurement process during the pandemic,” the commission said on Tuesday.

“The first prosecution of price gouging in the context of public procurement relates to the April 2022 matter, where another SAPS supplier, Tsutsumani Business Enterprises, was found guilty of price gouging in its supply of face masks in 2020.”

Tsutsumani was fined R3.4m, but the matter is under review before the competition appeal court.

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