Advancing awareness of the risks of imitation devices

The Specialized Commercial Crimes Court in Johannesburg on June 2, convicted Abdool Kadar Omar Khan (55) – sole proprietor of the businesses trading as Akronix and South Star Technologies in Lenasia, for contravening the Counterfeit Goods Act 37 of 1997 and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) Act 5 of 2008, for his role in importing nearly 124 000 counterfeit CBI earth leakage devices and circuit breakers from the Peoples’ Republic of China.

Our responsibility to the public

As the only manufacturer on the African Continent of state-of-the art safety critical devices of this nature, we have a responsibility to alert the public to the dangers of counterfeit, substandard products which are proven to be defective, thus creating the potential of fires, damage to property and potential loss of life.

Generally, the untrained eye will find it extremely difficult to distinguish and identify counterfeit products form the genuine products, but thanks to the unique CBI product design and attributes, it was relatively easy to identify the counterfeits and communicate the differences to our customers.   

Our reaction to the counterfeits

Whilst not wanting to jeopardize any investigation or criminal prosecutions, but at the same time having a duty to inform the public of this potentially lethal situation, our response was to rapidly implement a customer awareness programme to counter the threat. This was successfully achieved as follows:

  • A communications and marketing strategy was quickly implemented to identify counterfeit breakers and earth leakage devices. This took the form of a poster showing the design differences to look out for and was published in numerous media.
  • Posters were supplied to all our distributors, whom displayed it at the trade counters providing their customers with vital information in identifying counterfeits.
  • In addition to this approach, our technical representatives assisted in the distribution of posters and provided advice to customers on a face to face basis through customer discussion groups.
  • Further actions included an extensive re-authentication programme for all CBI distributors. This entailed inter alia level 1 training to all distributor counter staff which included technical training, product identification and customer applications. Successful completion of this training resulted in us issuing a re-authorization certificate which is prominently displayed at the distributor’s counter.
  • These actions were designed not only to alert the industry and public of the dangers of counterfeit safety critical devices, but also to ensure our customers that when dealing with authorized CBI suppliers or distributors, genuine products would always be supplied.

A comprehensive list of all certified CBI distributors is also published on our website.

The way forward – what’s new?

Our testing facilities are the only private testing facility of its type in the Southern Hemisphere, this together with our internationally recognized quality standards, we continue to ensure that all our products meet the most demanding requirements.

To expand our added value offerings, we have established a customer support service centre. For any queries related to the new customer support service center and related services, please contact the following CBI representative:

  • Name:           Ms Thelma Ramutla
  • Mobile:           +27 78 102 7078
  • Office:            (011) 928 2257
  • E mail:           thelma.ramutla@cbi-electric.com

As training is a very important element within CBI value added services, we have also updated all the training curriculums with a section on the identification and dangers of counterfeits. These training curriculums cover consulting engineers, universities, technical colleges, utilities, mining industry and general industrial companies.

CBI would like to thank all who assisted to have brought this unfortunate situation to closure. We stay alert however, as many counterfeit and dangerous products of all types and many brands finds its way into markets and to unsuspecting users.

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