Consumer Rights Law South Africa

The Bill of Rights contains the rights of all the people in South Africa, including their consumer rights. There are eight internationally recognized consumer rights.
  1. The right to satisfaction of Basic Needs. Consumers should have access to basic goods and services such as adequate food, clothing, housing, health care, education, clean water and sanitation.
It is therefore important for the Government to:
  1. Promote fair, reasonable and sustainable economic and social development.
  2. Give priority areas of interest essential to consumers' health, such as food, water and pharmaceuticals.
  3. Adopt food safety measures, effective monitoring, inspection and evaluation mechanisms.
  4. Improve the quality and appropriate use of pharmaceuticals through integrated national drug policies.
  1. The right to Safety. From a trade and industry perspective, consumers should be protected against production processes, products and services that are dangerous to health or life.
This means that the Government, business and civil society must ensure:
  1. Safety and quality standards for goods and services.
  2. Facilities for testing and certification for safety, quality and performance of essential consumer goods and services.
  3. Those policies are put in place for manufacturers to recall, replace, modify, substitute or compensate for defective or dangerous products.
  1. The right to Information. Consumers must be provided with the facts needed to make informed choices and to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising and labelling
There is thus a need for Government and business to:
  1. Provide information to consumers on proper use and risks associated with consumer products.
  2. Ensure the free flow of accurate information relating to consumer products.
  3. Develop consumer information programmes.
  1. The right to Choice. Consumer should be able to choose from a range of products and services, offered at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality.
Government and business need to ensure that:
  1. There is control of abusive and restrictive business practices.
  2. Goods meet reasonable demands for durability, utility, reliability and are fit for their purpose.
  3. Reliable after-sales service and spare parts are available.
  1. The right to Representation. Consumers' interests should be represented in the making and execution of government policy, and in the development of products and services.

It is therefore essential for Government to:

  1. Facilitate the development of independent consumer groups.
  2. Ensure that opportunities are provided for consumer groups to present views in decision-making processes.
  1. The right to Redress. Consumers must receive a fair settlement of just claims, including compensation for misrepresentation, or shabby goods or services.
This means that Government, business and civil society need to:<
  1. Set up fair, inexpensive and accessible avenues for redress.
  2. Resolve disputes in a fair, efficient and informal manner.
  3. Set up voluntary mechanisms such as advisory services and informal complaints procedures for consumers.
  1. The right to Consumer Education. Consumers need to acquire knowledge and skills needed to make informed and confident choices about goods and services, while being aware of basic consumer rights and responsibilities and how to act on them.
There is thus urgency for:
  1. The introduction of consumer education in schools.
  2. Education programmes to be initiated particularly for the low-income consumers.
  3. Government to organise programmes for educators, mass media professionals and consumer advisers.
  4. Business to undertake or participate in factual consumer education programmes.
  1. The right to a Healthy Environment. Consumers should live and work in an environment that is not threatening to the well-being of present and future generations.
This means that Government and business must:
  1. Adopt measures relating to use, production and storage of chemicals.
  2. Include health environmental information in the labelling of chemicals.