When standards start slipping in a country, it effects everything –   from the way trade partners perceive the country, to basic standards of living.  Consumers are extremely vulnerable, not knowing whether or not the products that they’re purchasing have met required international standards.

Having lived in several Third World countries, I have seen first-hand how standards can nose dive.  From finding nails in bottles of beer, to discovering that a bottle of weed killer for the vegetable patch had been taken off the market in all developing countries as the level of toxicity was just too high.

Third world countries, in effect, become the dumping ground for many substandard products.

I recently met with a representative from South Africa’s National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) to get a better idea of the process that products coming into the country have to go through before they hit our shelves.    He is an Electrotech Inspector and spends his time cold calling companies in the electronics industry who sell to the public. Nothing, it seems, escapes his well trained eye, especially if the product is new to the country.  “South Africa is particularly vulnerable when it comes to the dumping of defective products as we have so many entry points.  We have NRCS officials at all border posts checking on cargo, but sometimes there is the possibility that products can slip through unnoticed – hence the reason we spend a lot of time calling on retailers to make sure that substandard products are not on the shelves.”

More on the NRCS is that it is “”responsible for the administration and maintenance of compulsory specifications and the implementation of a regulatory and compliance systems for compulsory specifications.”  In other words, they are responsible for checking everything that comes through our borders to make sure that they are “compliant”.  If they are not  compliant, the product can be “disposed of”.

Importers and manufacturers need to label commodities coming into the country, with applicable specifications, including source of origin, batch, date of manufacture and characteristics of the item.  They also need a letter of authority that has been issued by the NRCS if they are importing goods.  So if you’re importing goods into the country you need to make sure that all the boxes are ticked by the NRCS.


If you’re unhappy about a product that you’ve purchased and want to get feedback from the NRCS,  give their Regional office a call on 031 533 6724.  Or visit their web  for more information.


WATER FROM AIR – This is one of the answers to our dire water shortage.  It is a water source that is pure, and is  drawn literally, from the air!  One of the best things about it is that it contains no chemicals – so no chlorine or other additives.  The Water From Air machine literally sucks in air which is filtered and then bottled.  If you want to find out more about this fantastic concept, pop into Hirsch’s as they have a demonstration unit in the store and have started supplying to the public.  Call them on 032 946 7400 for more information.