3 years ago

Opportunity Issue 91 - Sept-Oct-2019

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FOREWORD Counterfeit

FOREWORD Counterfeit Goods Trade Law Enforcement Alan Mukoki SACCI CEO Recent events of law enforcement action in the trade of counterfeit goods in the CBD of Johannesburg, and the resultant violent reaction and retaliation of this enforcement action by those that trade in such goods, leaves one with a number of feelings which by the nature of emotions they arouse, clash. Top of mind is a feeling that could lead one to conclude that the Johannesburg CBD is already long lost to crime and lawlessness, and the recent events are evidence of this widely held view, and rightly so. SACCI’s position is that the matter of the state of affairs in the Johannesburg CBD is one whose focus should be as urgent a priority to government, business and South Africans, as is the state of affairs of SOEs, municipalities, driving economic growth, job creation among the many other priorities that SACCI has pronounced. The trade of counterfeit goods has a number of material negative consequences to the economy, and key among them are a life threatening blow to local manufacturing, sustainable formal employment, loss of revenue to the fiscus in non-payment of all types of taxes, violation of international trade laws when the goods are smuggled into the country. The damage that the counterfeit goods trade does to the business sector is multi-pronged. SACCI therefore supports, encourages and commends the efforts of regulators to take steps necessary to address the trade of counterfeit goods. The unintended consequences of this enforcement action on communities whose livelihood would be significantly impacted, is one that imbues one with the conflicting emotions, at a time when one is aware that there are not enough jobs created, and that trading in counterfeit goods maybe the only way to feed families and send kids to school. From a moral standpoint, the justified action of police to enforce the law seems heartless and may be seen as deliberate efforts by government to take away a means of making a living. Although this view is understandable, there is just no basis to justify it. Ignoring the unintended consequences already mentioned is not an option either. The violent reaction of counterfeit goods traders to the law enforcement actions are condemned. Destruction of property, infrastructure and especially stoning the law enforcement officials is an act that cannot be justified. The decision by law officers to retreat from the situation is a commendable decision, as it took into consideration the high emotions at play at the time, and thus significantly reduced the risk of wider scales of destruction of property and vandalism, injury and loss of lives. The arrest at a later time, of individuals found to violate the law by trading in counterfeit goods, in public violence and destruction of property, and including being illegal in the country; are all commendable actions. The continued application of mind in showing restraint and sensitivity in enforcing the law is evidence that lessons have been learned. SACCI acknowledges the extreme difficulty in finding a balance between enforcing the law and the unintended consequences of this necessary action. In the next few days, SACCI will, together with its members, make recommendations to government to find urgent interventions to assist in finding solutions to those affected. The need to urgently implement policies to create jobs and to grow the economy must continue to be a priority. 4 |

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