September 29 - South Africa's Competition Commission has conducted a search and seizure operation at the premises of six cargo shipping companies operating in the Western Cape and Kwazulu-Natal provinces.
In an official statement, it said that it "has reasonable grounds to suspect that Hamburg Sud South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Maersk South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Safmarine (Pty) Ltd, Mediterranean Shipping Company (Pty) Ltd, Pacific International Line South Africa (Pty) Ltd and CMA CGM Shipping Agencies South Africa (Pty) Ltd have engaged in collusive practices to, inter alia, fix the incremental rates for the shipment of cargo from Asia to South Africa in contravention of the Competition Act."
The search and seizure operation was conducted as part of an ongoing investigation, which was initiated by the Commission based on information from a member the public.
Documents and electronic data that was seized will now be analysed together with other information gathered to determine whether these companies have contravened the Competition Act.
In terms of section 48 of the Competition Act, the Commission is authorised to enter and search premises and seize documents that have a bearing on its investigation. The Commission has obtained warrants authorising it to search the premises of the six companies at the Western Cape High Court and Pietermaritzburg High Court. The operation is conducted with due regard to the rights of all the affected persons.
"South Africa is a strategic hub for the trade of goods in and out of the Southern African region. Any cartel by shipping liners in this region results in inflated prices for cargo transportation. Cartels of this nature increase the costs of trading in the region and render the region uncompetitive in the world markets. Such cartels have the effect of significantly derailing the economic growth of the region", said the commissioner of the Competition Commission Tembinkosi Bonakele.