Feike has been provided with copies of a number of invoices and statements (particularly in the abalone sector) issued by the fisheries department to quota holders for levies that are supposedly due and payable.
On studying these invoices and statements, it is apparent that the invoices have only been raised after requests from right holders and that these invoices are effectively "backdated" as they were not issued when allegedly raised. Further, and with respect to abalone, we have noticed that the rate at which the levy is charged varies from R25/kg to R31,24/kg, which is a violation of the September 2010 Levies Notice - the most recent levy notice.
Further, the invoices and statements charge a "finance charge". It is unclear under what legal authority such a charge is levied when neither the department nor the Marine Living Resources Fund (MLRF) are known to be registered as credit or finance providers under the National Credit Act, 2005. Further, the process of charging a levy does not amount to advancing credit or a loan to any quota holder.
The confused and questionable invoicing practices of DAFF require further investigation and our advice to quota holders is to utilise an effective and free service available to them which could end up saving quota holders many thousands of rands. We would advise that industry bodies, such as FISH SA and others lodge a complaint with the National Consumer Commission (NCC) and request that the NCC investigate the invoice raising and billing practices of the DAFF. Remember, the NCC recently issued 45 compliance notices against the City of Johannesburg with a fine of R1 million per notice for that city's unlawful billing practices!