27 March 2024 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Supplied
Ntando Ncamane
Ntando Ncamane, a Mercantile Law Lecturer at the University of the Free State, speaks at the World Consumer Rights Day celebration.

The University of the Free State’s Faculty of Law, in collaboration with the Consumer Protection Forum (CPF), commemorated World Consumer Rights Day (WCRD) on 15 March 2024 at the Bloemfontein Campus. This globally recognised event sheds light on consumer rights and protections, with this year’s theme focusing on “Safe products, safe consumers: fostering accountability and compliance”.

The university’s dedication to consumer protection was demonstrated through strategic partnerships formed in September 2023. Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) signed with key regulatory bodies like the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) underscored commitments to integrating consumer protection principles into academic curricula. Modules like Consumer Protection and Credit Law are currently offered at second-year level and shall be expanded as an elective course at final year and master’s levels.

Speaking at the WCRD celebration, Ntando Ncamane, Mercantile Law Lecturer at the UFS, emphasised the significance of collaborative efforts, stating, “What we see here today is a result of the partnership we have with members of the CPF, in particular the NCC and NCR.”

Empowering consumers for change

Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina, highlighted challenges faced by the Free State province, including non-compliant products and misleading advertising. Gina stressed the importance of community involvement and educational programmes in empowering consumers to make informed decisions.
“If we do not take it upon ourselves as a community, as consumers, to work with these regulators, law enforcement, and municipalities, to make sure we report things that are happening where we stay, we are not going to be able to combat the wrongdoings happening. If we do not have these educational programmes, our communities become willing buyers not being aware that what they are engaged in is not what they are supposed to do. Therefore, the partnerships will go a long way,” added Gina.

Contributing to Vision 130

As South Africa commemorates three decades of democracy, initiatives like the WCRD celebration play a vital role in upholding consumer rights. They also contribute to the university's Vision 130, which aims to model the UFS into a research-led and globally impactful institution by 2034.

By fostering maximum societal impact through sustainable relationships, the UFS ensures that strategic partnerships like these produce graduates who become consumer protection activists and contribute to societal change. Through collaboration between academia, regulatory bodies, and communities, these efforts contribute to a safer and more informed society, ensuring consumer protections are upheld and enforced.

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