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Some shops owned by business persons of Chinese origin may be breaching provisions of the Competition and Fair Trading Act (CFTA) by forcing consumers to have their personal handbags locked in specially made carry bags, citing security concerns.

The practise is mostly rampant in Lilongwe.

The Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) has indicated that it is aware and has initiated investigations into the alleged malpractice after receiving complaints from some consumers.

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Some Lilongwe residents, who confided in us, said they felt dehumanised after being forced to lock up their personal valuables, which included mobile phones in some cases, as a requirement for them to do their shopping in the retail outlets of interest.

CFTC Executive Director, Wezi Malonda, described the action as unreasonable and culturally insensitive.

Malonda said it is surprising that the traders are continuing with the practise despite the CFTC engaging them and ordering them to stop.

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“We invited the management of the enterprise to a high-level meeting because there are increasing concerns about some of the practices and we told them to stop.

“We are investigating some of the alleged malpractices,” she said in an emailed response to our questions.

Malonda said this is happening despite efforts by the consumer body to promote voluntary compliance to fair trading practises by enterprises and said consumers should not relent in filing complaints, when they feel their rights are being violated.

We are making good progress as we are managing to get restitution for consumer loss in a number of cases.

“Consumers should assist our enforcement by not relenting in their filing of complaints with the CFTC. This surely promotes consumer welfare and a competitive trading environment.

“We will also continue to advise the government to promote opening of markets to enhance consumer welfare,” she said.

When contacted, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism publicist, Wiskes Nkombezi, said regulating such practises is in the domain of consumer welfare bodies while the ministry is mandated to work on policy matters.

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