R75 surgical masks selling for R2,000 amid coronavirus outbreak

And they are sold out

10 March 2020 - 09:28 By Cebelihle Bhengu
Different strains of coronavirus cause different symptoms.
Different strains of coronavirus cause different symptoms.
Image: 123RF/lightwise

As retailers battle to stock shelves with hygiene products amid the spread of coronavirus in SA, face masks have been selling online for R2,000 — R1,925 more than a month ago.

Journalist and radio host Brent Lindeque recently accused popular online store Takealot and one of its suppliers, Umlozi, of using the Covid-19 outbreak to profit from anxious customers.

Lindeque said he bought a pack of 50 masks from a pharmacy for R75 in February. This month, he discovered the same product on Takealot for R2,000.

“I get supply and demand, but this is probably one of the most insane things I have ever seen. First rule of business: Don't capitalise on tragedy,” he said.


Takealot told TimesLIVE it would not comment on the matter, but in a post on social media said suppliers determined pricing.

It agreed the hike was excessive and said it would engage with Umlozi.



Umlozi did not responded to requests for comment from TimesLIVE.

The product was later removed from Takealot, but a search on Umlozi's online store found similar masks selling for the same price.

The masks were sold on the supplier's site for R2,0000.
The masks were sold on the supplier's site for R2,0000.
Image: Umlozi website

The price hasn't stopped demand for masks, however.

By Monday, masks selling for R1,800 on Umlozi's store had sold out.

Face masks were sold out by Monday morning.
Face masks were sold out by Monday morning.
Image: Umlozi website

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