The City of Johannesburg has issued a stern warning to non-compliant spaza shops, with plans to deal decisively with those not adhering to regulations, as authorities confiscated more expired goods during inspections in Soweto.
In response to reported deaths allegedly linked to food poisoning, a team of spaza shop patrollers will be deployed by the end of this month. Their responsibilities will encompass conducting food quality inspections, monitoring, and, if necessary, closing down spaza shops that violate compliance.
The city is initiating the training of 600 patrollers by environmental health experts to address the issue of limited human resources and inspectors. Their primary role will be to identify non-compliance.
These patrollers will work alongside the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) to oversee an estimated 1,000 spaza shops in Soweto, enhancing enforcement capacity.
MMC for Public Safety, Dr Mgcini Tshwaku, expressed determination to enforce compliance, stating that spaza shops not adhering to regulations would face closure by the end of the month.
During a recent operation in Soweto, authorities discovered piles of expired goods, products lacking expiry dates, and counterfeit items in spaza shops owned by foreign nationals. The operation, led by the JMPD and officials from the City of Johannesburg’s Environmental Health and Emergency Management Services, closed two non-compliant shops.
Furthermore, some shops displayed unsafe electrical connections, overloaded plugs, and a lack of fire extinguishers.
Dr. Tshwaku noted that there are approximately 1,000 foreign-owned spaza shops in Soweto. In light of reported food poisoning incidents, he previously engaged with the leadership of Pakistan shops in Mayfair but expressed dissatisfaction with the outcome.
He highlighted the necessity for quality management systems, regular inspections, and self-regulation among spaza shop owners, warning that the city would escalate inspections and enforce compliance more rigorously.
The MMC reiterated that if shop owners failed to address the issues promptly, the city could close all non-compliant spaza shops, making it clear that it would no longer tolerate business as usual.
Picture: X / PublicSafetyMMC
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