• 'Fake' face masks were apparently being sold via Takealot.
  • The masks are reportedly listed as counterfeit by US health agencies.
  • The listing has now been removed, and the e-commerce company says it is investigating.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Takealot has yanked "fake" masks that claim to offer guaranteed protection from infection.

Business Insider South Africa received a complaint from a reader who ordered ten supposedly N95-rated face masks via Takealot for a whopping R450.

“On opening the package and trying one on, I realised that something is wrong as I could breathe easier through this mask than through the homemade sewn mask I had purchased from a local seamstress,” said the reader. 

The listing on Takealot has since been removed, and the company has suspended the seller until an investigation has been completed. By the time it was removed, the listing had a four star rating on the platform. 

N95 masks provide better protection against infection that normal cloth face masks. In addition, the masks were allegedly certified by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh). 

However, counterfeit masks that don’t actually provide an improved level of protection can put lives in danger. 

The masks in question are listed as counterfeit on the website of Niosh and the US Center for Disease Control. 

In response to question from Business Insider SA, Takealot said when the matter was brought to their attention “we immediately delisted the product, pending investigation. This gives our compliance team the time to establish whether this product is properly certified without impacting any other potential customers."

As Takealot is still investigating the matter, they can’t confirm whether the masks are counterfeit or not.

“In this particular instance, we have reached out to the marketplace seller asking for the necessary source documentation and have contacted the relevant certification authorities in order to be able to make an informed decision on the certification status,” the company said. 

The company says it performs due diligence when new vendors want to sell via their marketplace.

“Thereafter, we have a dedicated compliance team that actively monitors the products being sold by these marketplace sellers to ensure, amongst other things, that products are what they purport to be.”

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