November 14, 2022

CITY WARNS AGAINST FAKE HEALTH OFFICIALS TRYING TO SCORE FREE MEALS


The City of Cape Town’s Health Department is warning against fake health officials trying to scam business owners, by falsely claiming that a Certificate of Acceptability (COA) issued to their business expires every two years. The persons, who claim to be working for the Western Cape Provincial Health Department Head Office, threaten to close the premises down and demand free meals from restaurants.

City Health is aware of three cases in the Kalk Bay, Muizenberg and Bergvliet areas where the scam has been attempted. In all three cases, the local Environmental Health Practitioners (EHPs) who service the areas are well known. The business owners showed the criminals the door and reported the matter to the City.

“We encourage anyone who has been conned or threatened in this manner to please report it to the police and provide as much information as possible so that those responsible can be brought to book,” said  Mayoral Committee Member for Community Services and Health, Councillor Patricia van der Ross.

COAs issued since the updated regulations were published in 2018 remain valid unless the premises have a change in management, are sold, and physical changes are made to the premises and/or to the scope of operations.  Only the City of Cape Town Health Department has the legal mandate to issue COAs to food premises which, when issued, are printed on specifically manufactured paper with a holographic City logo that prevents it from being replicated. 

All City staff carry sturdy identification cards with the City logo that specifies their designation and the department they are working for. In their capacity as City employees, no one can request any rewards, gifts, favours and/or hospitality and do not have a general right to accept any of these.

“Criminals are finding more inventive ways to scam people out of their money and scoring free meals as in this case. Not only is this fraudulent and illegal behaviour, but many restaurants are still recovering from lockdown and can ill afford to be scammed in this manner,” said Councillor Van der Ross.

The City would like to again inform the public that there is no charge associated with the processing or issuing of a COA.

Furthermore, City officials are not permitted to accept payment directly from clients and any applications that do require payment should only occur at a City cash office or via electronic funds transfer into the City’s bank account – details of which are available on the City’s website.

The City’s advice to businesses is two-fold: 

When starting your business or considering any amendments to your conditions of trade, instead consult your local Environmental Health office or the City’s website to determine what exactly you need, how to apply for it and what costs are applicable, if any.

“If you’re approached or anyone visits your premises and demands payment or any type of reward for any type of inspection or documentation, insist on checking their credentials and verifying their story with the local Environmental Health office. Business owners can also check the legitimacy of any documentation provided by a third party with their EHPs,” added Councillor Van der Ross.

To find your local Environmental Health office, visit the City’s website at https://www.capetown.gov.za/Departments/City%20Health%20Department.