Police have sent a stern message to those trading in counterfeit goods across Gauteng - that their days are numbered.
On Tuesday, police destroyed heaps of counterfeit goods - estimated to be worth more than R500m - at a storage factory in Clayville, Johannesburg.
The goods were confiscated during various police operations between August last year and January 2019.
The destroyed goods were mainly clothing and footwear items, stored in plastic bags. They were thrown into a shredding machine and the remnants will be taken to a nearby dumping site.
Gauteng police commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela said the net was closing in on all those who continue trading in illegal goods.
Mawela described the counterfeit goods business as a Transnational Organised Crime syndicate which was operated by locals and foreign nationals.
"We want to inform our communities that we are not to going to accept people trading in goods that are not approved by the South African Bureau of Standards. We are doing this to protect our small and emerging businesses in the province, because it has become difficult for them to prosper when they compete with people who trade in counterfeit goods.
"We have prioritised this operation and we will hit all those who practice this illegal behaviour in the pocket. When we raid warehouses where some of these goods are stored, we find documents that give us leads. Our investigations are continuing and more arrests will be made," he said.
He added that they had also involved the Asset Forfeiture Unit to confiscate some of the warehouses where the illegal goods were stored.
Smuggled into the country
"Some of these goods were smuggled into the country and in some instances, criminals bring machines from overseas to illegally manufacture goods in the country. We urge our people to be our eyes and ears. We call on them to protect our officers when they raid such places and refrain from attacking our members," he concluded.
Recently, police came under fire when they tried to raid buildings in Johannesburg, where it was suspected that occupants were trading in illegal goods.
Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane said the counterfeit goods had been destroyed to demonstrate transparency to the public, and that the illegal products were not being sold by police upon confiscation.
"There are accusations that our offices are selling these goods and its a lie. Every three months, we destroy these goods and now we felt that we should invite the media to demonstrate to our people how these goods are destroyed. Some of the people that we have confiscated these goods from are illegal immigrants.
"There are also South African nationals who go overseas and bring these illegal goods into the country. We are warning everybody that whoever is part of this syndicate, we will arrest them and confiscate their goods," she said.