Schools fight back amid uniform price-fixing probe
Suthentira Govender | 2017-06-07 15:37:47.0
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Some of the schools accused of uniform price-fixing are fighting back against the Competition Commission‚ claiming that have done nothing wrong despite being named and shamed by the watchdog body at the weekend.
The Sunday Times reported this week that the Commission had received nine formal complaints from parents who claimed they were forced to buy uniforms from school shops or from exclusively-selected suppliers – a practice prevalent in both public‚ mainly former model C‚ and private schools. But the Commission confirmed‚ in writing‚ that it had taken the probe beyond these complaints and that it had launched an investigation “against all schools and school uniform suppliers nationwide”.
While the investigation has not yet been completed‚ commission spokesman Sipho Ngwema confirmed the body “has established several exclusive supply agreements that could be anti-competitive”. He said that summons have been issued and ”interrogations” conducted with alleged offenders.
Ngwema named schools falling under the AdvTech‚ Curro and Kyalami Schools groups as being among those specifically complained about‚ while also naming major suppliers‚ including McCullagh and Bothwell‚ Grit Procurement‚ and She Sport and Schoolwear as also being probed. Schools being investigated include Garsfontein High School and Northridge Primary‚ both in Pretoria; Beulieu College in Midrand‚ Copperleaf College in Centurion‚ Meridian Cosmo City in Johannesburg‚ EP Baumann Primary in Johannesburg; Reddam House in Cape Town; and Amajuba Primary in Newcastle.
But at least two of the schools are fighting back.
Reddam House principal Barry Nieuwoudt said that while the school was aware of the commission’s investigation‚ it had done no wrong. In fact‚ he said‚ the school didn’t even sell uniforms.
“The school is not involved in the retail of school uniforms and according to the commission’s official complaint form‚ is not a listed party under investigation‚” he said.
Safeea Rahiman‚ acting CEO of Kyalami Schools‚ said: “Kyalami Schools has not been approached by the Competition Commission. Kyalami Schools is committed to working with the Competition Commission to ensure there is no untoward business practice.”
Ngwema did not respond to a request for comment regarding the schools’ claims.