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Commission wants maximum penalty for firm charged with hiking face mask prices

The watchdog said LevTrade International was guilty of excessive pricing and it wanted the Competition Tribunal to act decisively.

Competition Commission commissioner Thembinkosi Bonakele. Picture: @CompComSA/Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - The Competition Commission on Wednesday said that it would ask for the harshest penalty against LevTrade International, a company charged with inflating prices for masks.

The watchdog said that the company was guilty of excessive pricing and it wanted the Competition Tribunal to act decisively. The matter was referred to the tribunal on Tuesday.

LevTrade International joins Dis-Chem on the list of companies caught by the Competition Commission for excessively pricing their masks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The commission said that these actions were harmful to the consumers who needed masks as the pandemic spreads.

Commissioner Tembinkosi Bonakele said that harsh punishment for perpetrators would deter others from doing the same.

“Our position on price gouging has consistently been to discourage firms from engaging in price gouging of essential goods during this period of the pandemic.

"The commission will stop at nothing in ensuring that firms that are engaged in price gouging of essential goods are prosecuted. In this matter, the commission has asked the tribunal to impose a maximum penalty against LevTrade,” Bonakele said in a statement.

The Competition Commission said that it would go after anyone who took advantage of consumers during this time.

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