Skyrocketing ginger prices, special tenant rights - Wendy Knowler investigates

Skyrocketing ginger prices, special tenant rights - Wendy Knowler investigates

In this, the first Consumerwatch feature of 2021, Wendy Knowler reveals why the price of ginger has skyrocketed, and why the government’s Disaster Management Act regulation preventing landlords from cutting off electricity to tenants who are in arrears is, in reality, hollow protection.


Peter Jarvis wanted to know why the price of ginger was suddenly so high. He sent Wendy Knowler a photo of the loose ginger he bought from Underberg Spar this week - at R410,26 per kg! That means his 314g of the aromatic root cost him a whopping R128,82. A month ago, the same store was selling ginger for “just” R90,85 per kg. 

The highest ginger price Wendy's come across this week is R499 per kg at the Pick n Pay in Parow, Cape Town. Meanwhile, Underberg Spar manager Cathy Knox said the store’s cost price from its supplier was currently very high.

READ: About those extra costs on your store account...

“We are battling to get ginger due to the very high demand - it’s perceived as an immune booster in the fight against COVID-19,” she said.

Food Lover's Market is selling its loose ginger at R249,99 per kilo. Group legal advisor Mirella Gastaldi said there had been a “significant” increase in the price of ginger this month due to an increase in demand, as well as a shortage of supply in South Africa.

“Ginger is a seasonal crop, with the harvest in South Africa generally starting at the end of February and into March, so supply is severely constrained at the moment, with the majority of the supply consisting of imported ginger. The constraint on the supply of ginger in South Africa is being exacerbated by an international shortage of ginger, which has driven up its price, so the ginger being imported into South Africa is landing at a much higher price.” She added that the group had decreased its margin on ginger to contain the price for consumers.

READ: Paid then, fly later... much later

The good news is that the price of ginger is expected to fall from March when locally-grown ginger comes onto the market.
Meanwhile, many people are sharing on Twitter how they have taken to growing their own ginger, with photos of their ginger plants.

What can you do if your landlord cuts your electricity because you’re in arrears? Not a lot...

On December 28, government published yet another set of regulations outlawing the sale of alcohol, introducing a tighter curfew - and giving tenants special protection, now valid until February 15.

READ: Wendy Knowler offers solutions to Keri Miller’s municipal bill issues

Landlords will still be entitled to demand their rental and cancel leases if tenants remain in breach indefinitely and legal evictions - with notices issued by a court - can now take place.

Cindy, who rents a house on the Bluff with her family, was recently retrenched and fell behind in her rent - she owes the landlord three months rent but plans to move out at the end of the month. The landlord has been trying to evict the family without an eviction order and has blocked their pre-paid electricity meter.

“We can only buy from him but he is refusing to let us buy until we give him some money, which we don't have,” she told Consumerwatch. “Please help, we are desperate.”

Robin Topping, an associate attorney with Durban law firm Thorpe & Hands, agreed to represent Cindy pro bono.

Listen to the podcast to find out what the result was and what you can do should you be in a similar situation.

READ: Edgars: This week’s drama for account holders is an interest-related bill shock

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