Over 14 employees have been saved by officials after being locked in a factory in Durban for over a week and forced to continue manufacturing masks.
In a statement, the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, expressed her horror after discovering “more than 14 employees who have been locked up in a factory since Monday last week. They were forced to manufacture hundreds of masks to meet the demand caused by the outbreak of coronavirus.”
Many have been capitalising on the increasing demand for masks by rising the prices astronomically, forcing people to pay hundreds of rands for a single mask.
After receiving a complaint that company Chen Lu in Glen Anil, Durban was disregarding the law, officials went to investigate the matter.
“Inspectors from the department’s Consumer Protection Unit, who are investigating complaints of the violation of consumer rights and price hikes, have saved more than 14 workers who were subjected to inhuman conditions,” explains Dube-Ncube.
“The owner of the factory has been arrested and inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour are conducting an investigation. This is in relation to the violation of the Conditions of Employment; and Occupational and Safety Act.”
The workers are being transported by SAPS to various townships in the Greater Durban area.
“I wish to reiterate today that that our position as the department has not changed. We will continue to enforce our zero-tolerance policy towards price gougers who are using the Coronavirus outbreak to sell much-needed food and other products at inflated prices,” sayd Dube-Ncube.
“Turning a blind eye to these injustices will be tantamount to the abdication of our mandate as public representatives. This government is the only hope for millions of the people of KwaZulu-Natal during this difficult period. I undertake not to betray them.”