Consumer services

Consumer Tribunal for W Cape

18 March 2004 Western Cape Finance and Economic Development MEC Ebrahim Rasool has urged consumers to make use of the province's newly established Consumer Tribunal. Speaking at the launch of the Tribunal on Monday, Rasool said the tribunal would handle complaints against high prices, as well as against racial and gender discrimination at holiday resorts. The Tribunal will also hear serious cases of infringement of consumer rights, and can issue orders to companies to refund consumers. "We can intervene and stop a business from operating until [an order is complied with], and we can also lay a basis for class actions by consumers against a particular company," Rasool said. Rasool also announced that the number of consumer advice offices in the Western Cape would increase from 23 to 30 next year. The MEC also issued a stern warning to businesses that act in an unscrupulous manner. "Sort out your act; we know that there are allegations of high prices, malpractices, and racial discrimination," he said. The Tribunal is chaired by Selwyn Hockey, an attorney, who is assisted by five other members. The first Tribunal hearings are scheduled to take place later this year. Members of the public can lodge complaints with the Office of the Consumer Protector at 0800 007 081. The provincial government has also signed a partnership agreement with NGO Black Sash to extend consumer rights services to some parts of the province. "That partnership will be cemented with the signing of a funding agreement to extend the consumer advice and assistance service, on a two day a week basis, to Plettenberg Bay and to Kwanokuthula outside of Cape Town," Rasool said. Source: BuaNews


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