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Mozambique’s National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE) has shut down a Maputo warehouse belonging to the company Kawena, and seized all the foodstuffs it contained for analysis by the health authorities.
Kawena specializes in providing goods to the families of Mozambican migrants working on the South African mines – but an INAE inspection showed that much of the food Kawena supplies is rotten.
At a Monday press conference, the INAE general inspector, Rita Freitas, described the scene the inspectors found at the warehouse as “simply dramatic”.
INAE descended on the Kawena warehouse after receiving repeated complaints from miners’ families that the goods they received from Kawena, paid for by the miners, were inedible.
The inspectors found that the warehouse was full of deteriorated produce – and to make matters worse, Kawena tried to recycle the goods, discarding the most obviously rotten parts, and repackaging the rest. They even called the section where goods were repackaged a “hospital”.
“This is the first time I’ve ever heard of a hospital for recovering foodstuffs”, remarked Freitas. “What we saw was sad”.
“When insects are found, resulting from the poor conservation or the deterioration of the food, notably maize and wheat flour, groundnuts and pasta, these foodstuffs are just recycled, repackaged and handed over for consumption”, she said.
These goods, recycled to disguise the insect infestations, were then sent from the warehouse to Kawena’s seven shops, where they were delivered to the miners’ families.
Freitas said that Kawena also tried to kill off the pests by directly spraying chemicals onto the food. She said the company had used toxic products which INAE had not yet been able to identify.
She promised that, after a thorough analysis of the goods seized, INAE will hand he matter over to the Attorney-General’s Office for criminal proceedings, since there was clear evidence that Kawena had committed crimes against public health.
Freitas also announce that INAE has closed two factories belonging to the MAEVA group, one in Maputo city making soap, and the second just outside the city, making vegetable oil. INAE had fund serious hygiene and cleanliness problems in the factories, as well as anomalies in their licences.
Freitas urged businesses to cooperate with INAE by ensuring the minimum hygiene and safety conditions in their establishments. If they ensured a clean and healthy environment on their premises, then they would avoid suspension or closure.
Businesses were resisting the recommendations from inspectors, she said. “INAE does not enjoy closing establishments down”, Freitas stressed. “We know that, when we suspend an establishment, its workers go for days without work, and this can cause problems for their families”.
“We only shut places down when they are in very poor conditions”, she added, “and we do so in order that the problems can be corrected and they can be put back to work”.
Over the last 15 days, INAE inspected 1,219 establishments across the country – including whoselsale and retail outlets, industries and tourism undertakings. In only four cases (including Kawena and MAEVA) did INAE feel obliged to shut them down.Source: AIM