Dis-Chem Pharmacies Limited, a South African wholesale distributor and retailer of pharmaceutical products, has on Thursday been charged for inflating prices during the COVID-19 national lockdown.
The South African Competition Commission has found the company guilty of excessive pricing on essential hygienic goods to the detriment of customers and consumers in contravention of the Competition Act.
According to the commission, Dis-Chem inflated their surgical face mask blue 50PC, from R43.47 (excl VAT) per unit (50 masks) in February 2020 to R156.95 (excl VAT) per unit (50 masks) in March 2020, a price increase of 261%.
The surgical face masks 5PC, the average price increased from R13.27 (excl VAT) per unit (5 masks) in February 2020 to R19.03 (excl VAT) per unit (5 masks) in March 2020, a price increase of 43%.
“These essential items are surgical face masks blue 50PC, surgical face masks 5PC and surgical face masks folio dress blue. From at least 28 March 2020, the Commission received several complaints from the public against several retail stores owned by Dis-Chem for engaging in excessive pricing of face masks, specifically dusk and surgical masks,” the commission said in a statement.