The Competition Appeal Court has upheld the Competition Commission’s decision to impose a R3.5m penalty on local business Tsutsumani Business Enterprises for marking-up the price of surgical masks by 87% in 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit SA.

A Cape Argus report says the Competition Commission has since welcomed the decision by the Competition Appeal Court (CAC), handed down last Friday, which confirmed a decision of the Competition Tribunal made in April 2020.

The CAC’s ruling followed an unsuccessful review application brought by Tsutsumani against the tribunal’s decision.

The matter stemmed from an investigation by the commission after a complaint filed by the SAPS against Tsutsumani for alleged excessive pricing of masks supplied to the SAPS.

Tsutsumani denied the excessive pricing allegations.

This was the first excessive pricing case referred to the tribunal by the commission in the context of a public procurement process during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘The CAC judgment underscores the fact that excessive pricing of essential goods and services, within the context of public procurement, during a pandemic or national disaster, will not be tolerated by competition authorities,’ said Competition Commissioner Doris Tshepe.

Full Cape Argus report