On Thursday, March 9, the East London CBD came to a standstill as a result of the foreign nationals’ shops being searched as part of an initiative to make sure businesses adhere to health and safety environmental regulations. More than five shops were searched, yielding illegal cigarettes, illegal facial creams, Adco-Dol tablets, pregnancy tests, and other medicinal tablets.
Let Us Find Them, a non-governmental organisation, collaborated with a variety of stakeholders, including Immigration, the Department of Employment and Labour, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), and the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
According to Lonwabo Yiliwe, CEO of Let Us Find Them, these operations have improved the environment in shops and protected citizens’ rights, which is part of the organisation’s mission. “The benefit of this campaign is to make sure we live in a healthy and safe environment, as part of this campaign we also look for child labour activities, as we have noted that most of the young children in surrounding countries are being employed in these shops in rural areas,” said Yiliwe.
This organisation, which was founded in 2021, focuses on missing persons, the protection of human rights, and offering victims psychosocial support. Yiliwe says that since the organisation’s creation, 310 cases of missing persons have been reported to them; 210 of those cases have been attended, with some missing persons luckily discovered alive and others sadly found dead.
“We branched out to searching shops late last year as one of our mandate is to protect the rights of all citizens, some of activities in these shops are against the rights of our people. They sell expired food, and medication,” said Yiliwe.
The Buffalo City Metro has been conducting shop raid operations where businesses have been assessed for compliance with health and safety regulations, environmental and hygiene standards, license requirements, tax laws, and in certain cases, emigration status. Many expired or illegal products have been seized, and businesses have been shut down or fined.
Yiliwe encourages anyone who thinks a business is not abiding by health and safety regulations to report it by calling Let Us Find Them at 043 816 8423 or sending them a private message on their Facebook page, “Let Us Find Them,” where they will respond.