'Making a profit off an epidemic?' -Andile Ncube grills Takealot over R4,300 box of masks

Retailer responds by removing masks from site

19 March 2020 - 11:00 By Chrizelda Kekana
Andile Ncube called out Takealot on Twitter for the exorbitant price of face masks.
Andile Ncube called out Takealot on Twitter for the exorbitant price of face masks.
Image: Instagram/Andile Ncube

Sports presenter Andile Ncube has called out online retailer Takealot for "making a profit off an epidemic" by selling face masks at exorbitant prices.

He took to Twitter on Wednesday after seeing a screenshot from Takealot's website showing a box of masks selling for R4,300.

He asked the retailer on which side of history it wanted to find itself, if indeed it was selling the product for that amount.

"Dear Takealot, I’ve just been vouching for you, surely this is a mistake or fake news!? You are not trying to make an insane profit off an epidemic that could end many lives - you surely are more socially conscious and responsible, right?"

The retailer responded to the comment by explaining that the price was not determined by Takealot but by a third-party seller.

"Hi Andile. Pricing of third-party marketplace products isn't determined by us. However, we're closely monitoring the situation and where prices are deemed to have been exorbitantly increased, we'll engage the relevant sellers."

Takealot added that in cases where a seller did not comply with its terms and conditions, it was suspended and the product removed from the site.

"We have already engaged this particular seller and the listing has since been removed and should therefore not be available on our platforms any more."

This is not the first time Takealot has been accused of “capitalising on tragedy” since the outbreak of Covid-19 in SA this month.

Just hours after SA announced its first official case of the virus, journalist and radio host Brent Lindeque said he had discovered a pack of 50 masks on the retailer's site for R2,000.

He said he had bought the same product a month earlier at a pharmacy for R75.

Takealot responded at the time by saying its suppliers determined pricing, but agreed that the price hike was excessive. It promised to engage with the supplier, Umlozi, and removed the product from its online store.

Ncube is the latest in a long list of SA celebrities who have called out brands for hiking the prices on products such as sanitisers and masks.

Others - such as Thandiswa Mazwai, Rami Chuene and The Soil's Buhle Mda - have called out different stakeholders for allowing panic shopping.

As South Africans come to grips with measures implemented by President Cyril Ramaphosa to prevent the spread of coronavirus, many are panic buying, filling their trolleys with goods and leaving other citizens with no options. Consumer journalist Wendy Knowler provides insight on the phenomenon.