Sky Country raided for selling rotten meat

Sky Country raided for selling rotten meat

MASERU – THERE was drama in Maseru yesterday after the police arrested a Chinese meat wholesaler for allegedly selling rotten meat.
The police, who had accompanied Trade Minister Tefo Mapesela to raid Sky Country Butchery following complaints from the public, tied the owner only identified as Chen with shoe laces as they had not brought their handcuffs,

The police then dragged Chen from the butchery, with him pleading to the police not to tie him as he was not resisting arrest.
This is not the first time that Sky Country has been in trouble with the law for allegedly selling rotten meat products.
In 2013, the then Trade Minister Temeki Tšolo had the butchery raided for allegedly selling rotten meat. The butchery was then temporarily shut down.

The Maseru City Council together with health inspectors from the Ministry of Health also raided the butchery.
But there have been allegations that the butchery had persisted in selling rotten meat to customers.
Yesterday’s raid came after a customer, Mahlape Makoanyane, complained to Mapesela that the butchery had sold her rotten chicken.

Makoanyane went to Mapesela’s office after the staff at Sky Country refused to be cooperative when she demanded a refund of her money.
“They were angry and they wanted to beat me when I demanded my money,” Makoanyane told thepost during the raid.
Mapesela responded by revoking the butchery’s trading licence and shutting down Sky Country.
Mapesela told thepost that “all Sky Country stores will be closed in the country”.

Mapesela said he was angry because “not long ago it came to my attention that Sky Country was selling unwholesome food products and those expired goods were seized”. “But I heard that soon after that Sky Country continued as if nothing had happened. It was business as usual,” Mapesela said.
Mapesela said he called Chen to his office where he told him that “if the situation prevails I will not hesitate to close the shop, revoke licences and deport you to your country, China”.

“Sky Country is killing Basotho and these Chinese nationals are doing things that they would not do in their country,” he said.
“Unfortunately there are Basotho who are conniving with these individuals. I am aware that when my people come here for inspections he gives them bribes. He clearly has a lot of money.”
Mapesela said his ministry will soon crack down on officers who have been taking bribes.
Yesterday’s raid discovered that over half of the stock was rotten.
Some meat packages had expiry dates dated as far back as December last year.
When Mapesela asked Chen why he is selling rotten meat, Chen responded that it had not expired but the problem was with the scanner which issues date stickers backwards.

’Makong Nkhahle, an inspector, said when items have reached the peak of their shelf life they are corruptly taken out of their original packaging and packed afresh with new expiry dates or none at all.  “We asked him previously how he set the expiry dates on products that have already expired but he said the meat was not rotten,” Nkhahle said.

He further indicated that it is challenging to fine those who are found selling expired goods. “We do not have our own regulations or policies that deal with that issue,” Nkhahle said. “We have been using the Municipality Inspection Act of 1978 and that is not helpful because even when we have seized stock worth M500 000 the perpetrators are only fined M200,” he said.

He said they have a draft Bill which is currently before parliament. “It would be in the consumers’ interest if it could be passed as a law as soon as possible because we have made sure that those found guilty of such things are dealt with accordingly.”

Sky Country workers who preferred not to be named said they were expecting to be back at work soon as is always the case.
“On March 9 this year this butchery was shut down but as soon as the officials left it was business as usual,” one of them said.
The workers said they have witnessed police officers, trade inspection officers and labour officers accepting bribes.
“Even yesterday one was given a bribe,” another worker said.

The workers confessed that they knew that the meat and other products sold in the butchery were rotten but could not stop the practice because their boss told them to sell such products. They stated that there have been countless complaints lodged against the butchery which have not been solved.

Lemohang Rakotsoane

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