YANDE SYAMPEYO, Lusaka
THE Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) confiscated over 200 bales of underwear in Lusaka warehouses from unscrupulous importers in 2014 and 2015 and perpetrators were penalised.
ZABS head of marketing and public relations Hazel Zulu said the importers of the illegal clothes were charged 15 percent of the total value of the seized goods.
Mrs Zulu said in an interview that the agency has intensified inland inspections of warehouses to “fish out” the undergarments which are illegal under the Zambian Standards (ZS) number 559.
She said the agency is aware of the pockets of traders still engaged in the sale of the illegal clothing.
Mrs Zulu, however, said the agency is focusing on paralysing the syndicate of importers of the underwear as traders are only a fraction of the ‘problem’.
“I agree there are still pockets of traders engaged in the illicit activity but what we are focusing on now is paralysing the trade on the importers perspective because we know when we confiscate products from traders on the streets, we are not solving the entire problem.
“So, we inspect the warehouses and we actually find these products and charge the offenders 15 percent of the total value of the seized goods. They also pay the cost of incineration and or destruction of the goods,” she said.
Mrs Zulu said the fight against second-hand clothes is being aided by the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) that has declared zero tolerance to smuggling.
Mrs Zulu said it is ‘tricky’ to penalise or identify ZABS inspectors involved in the illegal trade without concrete evidence.
She, however, said the agency has an integrity committee and workplace policy on code of ethics which all employees should adhere to.
Mrs Zulu reiterated the call for members of the public to shun used undergarments as it is a risk to their health.