The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA), in partnership with its members in the manufacturing and retail industry, has launched a toll-free hotline number the public can use to anonymously report information about illicit and counterfeit manufacturing and trading of products in South Africa.
Abraham Nelson, the Council's head for the crime risk initiative (CRI) says the toll-free number (0800 014 856) is one of the initiatives by CGCSA to protect its members from illicit and counterfeit manufacturing and trading of various product such as alcohol, cigarettes, food, pharmaceuticals and clothing. It also serves to protect consumers from harmful products.
“One of the biggest threats to economic order and growth as well as to the fiscus in South Africa is the trend of counterfeiting and illicit trade. That is why CGCSA has, through the support of its members, launched a toll-free number so that members of the public can anonymously report any suspected illicit manufacturing and trading activities,” says Nelson.
Callers will be guaranteed anonymity and they will never be requested to provide any information that may compromise their identity.
He says the illicit economy thrives on counterfeit and fake goods, and is estimated to account for as much as 10% of the SA economy. It is estimated that the South African Revenue Services (SARS) could be losing moer than R8-billion every year from the sale of illicit cigarettes alone.
Nelson says in South Africa, the most counterfeited goods are alcohol, cigarettes, footwear, clothing, leather goods, electrical equipment, watches, medical equipment, perfumes, toys, jewellery and pharmaceuticals. Globally, trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has risen steadily in the last few years and was last year estimated at 3.3% of global trade, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the EU’s intellectual property office.
Nelson says the information provided on the hotline will first be verified by CRI in conjunction with law enforcement agencies and other relevant authorities before appropriate action can be taken.
“We will work closely with law enforcement agencies such as the South African Police Service (SAPS) and SARS, as well as the relevant parties in the consumer goods industry, to ensure that we enforce the country’s laws related to counterfeiting, consumer safety and infringement on the rights of brand owners,” Nelson says.
He says callers will be guaranteed anonymity and they will never be requested to provide any information that may compromise their identity. The toll-free number will be operational Monday to Friday, from 8am to 5pm. Callers will still be able to provide information outside these hours by leaving information via voice message.
“CGCSA looks forward to further meaningful and practical solutions to deal with both illicit and counterfeit trade, and as an industry body, we are ready, through our crime risk initiative, to work with our members and government to ensure that we protect our members and consumers for the betterment of all in our country,” Nelson says.
FACT SHEET ABOUT ILLICIT TRADING IN SOUTH AFRICA AND GLOBALLY