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Shop owner defiant as council officials pounce


Rethabile Pitso

Maseru City Council (MCC) officials on Thursday seized expired goods from a Chinese-owned supermarket situated at Borokhoaneng in Maseru.

The raid on Family Supermarket came after council was alerted of the goods by irate customers who said they were tired of always returning expired stuff to the store—only to be rudely turned away by the management.

MCC Health and Environment Officer, Makoae Makhotsa told the Sunday Express during the raid: “Our office was called by some customers complaining that they were being sold  expired goods at Family Supermarket. The customers also said they were being abused when they returned the expired goods to the shop.

“When we inspected the shop, we found out that some of the maize-meal and flour bags had been opened, and crudely hand-sewn. We also found out that the flour, maize-meal and other goods such as cooking oil, instant porridge and sugar had long expired, or repackaged contrary to the law. The repackaging had been done to produce smaller packets and then sell them at a cheaper rate, but this is not allowed by the law.

“And when we asked the workers about it, they said they had been instructed by the owner to open the bags, sieve the rotting maize-meal and flour and put the food back in the bags and rub off the expiry dates.

“This was the food that was later sold to unsuspecting customers. In fact, we found out that the food was not only rotten but also had weevils. This was really terrible and a serious health hazard.”

However, despite the raid which took place in broad daylight, customers were flooding the shop and buying the goods because they were “affordable”.

The customers were actually not happy that the MCC was raiding the shop, which they said sold goods at almost half the normal price.

Some male customers who could not wait to buy makoenya from the shop also swore at the Sunday Express photographer as he captured the chaotic scene in the shop during the raid.

The men said they did not care about “an expiry date”, but only filling their stomachs at an affordable price.

But some of the workers appeared to support the MCC raid, and alerted inspectors about the “filthy kitchen”, which they said also put their health at risk.

Meanwhile, the seized goods were later loaded onto a mini-van and taken to the Tsosane dumpsite.

However, the shop-owner, Alesha Kharton screamed at MCC officials not to harass her for no apparent reason, insisting the goods were in perfect condition. Earlier, she had hidden some expired sweets behind the counter after they were also spotted for the dumpsite.

“Why are you raiding this shop? These goods are in perfect condition so I don’t know why you are doing this to us,” she screamed at the MCC officials, who had been accompanied by staff from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Cooperatives and Marketing. The latter wanted to check if the shop’s trading licence was still valid.

“The problem with Basotho is they will buy anything that is cheap,” one of MCC officials remarked. “Even if they see that the goods are rotten, they will still buy them for as long as they are cheap. You saw it for yourself that we were actually viewed as the enemy when we were removing the goods from the shop, and not people who were saving them from a hazard.”





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