The Cape Navigator

Seaside Community Newspaper

South Africa

Dodgy Diesel Dilemma: Government’s Silence on Fuel Station Locations Raises Concerns

Michael Hawthorne

SOUTH AFRICA – In a startling revelation, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has uncovered fake diesel at 70 filling stations across South Africa. However, the public remains in the dark about the names and locations of these stations, as the department claims the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) prohibits their disclosure.

The investigation, conducted from April to December of the previous year as part of fuel quality monitoring, found that some service stations were selling diluted diesel, potentially causing damage to vehicles and hitting drivers’ pockets. While the culprits have received non-compliance notices and are required to take remedial action, the department remains tight-lipped on revealing their identities.

Robert Maake, Spokesperson for Mineral Resources and Energy, issued a warning to consumers, stating, “If you go to a service station and you find that the diesel price is too good to be true, then you must be suspicious.”

Luxury Watches

The Cape Navigator, however, questioned Maake on the reluctance to disclose the names of these stations, challenging the department on the grounds of transparency and consumer protection. In response to our inquiries, Maake referred the questions related to POPIA to legal colleagues, promising a meeting with officials from the Consumer Protection.

Several key questions were posed to the department, seeking clarity on the decision not to disclose station names under the Protection of Personal Information Act:

  1. Can the Department of Energy provide further clarification on how the publication of publicly registered names is precluded under the Protection of Personal Information Act?
  2. What role does the Consumer Protection Act play in the decision not to disclose the names of petrol stations selling diluted diesel? How does the department balance the right to protect consumers with privacy considerations?
  3. Regarding the petrol stations in question, can the Department of Energy shed light on whether they were knowingly selling diluted diesel, or if they were unaware and potentially affected by unscrupulous suppliers?
  4. How does the department prioritize protecting public safety over privacy concerns of businesses engaging in illegal practices?
  5. How does the department see transparency as a means to empower consumers and promote fair market practices?
  6. How does the department weigh the potential damage to the reputation of businesses against the wider protection of consumers as a deterrent to fraudulent practices?
  7. Who provided the legal opinion that influenced the decision not to disclose the names of the petrol stations? What are their legal qualifications, and are they a registered law practitioner?

Stations Unknowingly Affected by Dirty Diesel

In response to the media inquiry, Maake clarified that the department does not have evidence indicating that the affected service stations deliberately sold diluted diesel to motorists. As investigations continue, it’s worth noting that efforts are being made to understand the circumstances surrounding these instances. However, the lack of response to our email dated January 23, 2023, raises concerns about the transparency and accountability of the department in this matter.

As South African motorists remain in the dark about the safety and reliability of their fuel sources, The Cape Navigator seeks answers and accountability from the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. We believe that providing clarity on these matters is crucial for understanding the department’s perspective and actions in this complex situation.

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