South Africa's automotive industry is facing an influx of illegal auto parts in the market. A large share of fake parts are reported to be from China. Trafficking of counterfeit vehicle parts such as brake pads and oil filters is becoming a significant economic problem for the motor vehicle parts supplier industry.
This year, the South African police discovered fake vehicle bearings at a Johannesburg warehouse worth close to 200 million US dollars. Automotive experts in South Africa warn that bogus aftermarket parts can be life-threatening for motorists.
"In the roadshows that took part around the country, the net effect was to a tune of half a billion rands and in terms of USD that would be 31 million USD worth of goods that were destroyed. These were products entering borders as counterfeit products that don't meet the necessary specifications." expresses Vishall Premlall, Tyre Equipment and Parts Association National Director.
Mobile mechanic repair start-up, Fixxr has come into the South African automotive aftercare sector to offer consumers advice on accredited parts suppliers and mechanics. However, Mawethu Soga, Fixxr Head of Commercialization and Growth believes that to minimize illicit goods in the market, Africa's 30 billion US dollar aftercare car sector needs to focus on building a reliable auto part industry.
"What you see in South Africa is a mature automotive space. Both in parts supply and mechanical skills. Out of the other markets like Nigeria, you have 90 percent of cars that are secondhand. They do not have a reliable parts market, you don't have reliable, trained mechanics. So,everyone is trying to do the best they can. Those markets have great capacity for manipulation.", says Soga
Kelvin Maumela, a Johannesburg based mechanic who has spent 63 years of life repairing cars, attributes the influx of fake auto parts in the country to consumers’ limited knowledge of the repair business. "I have 63 years experience in repairing cars. I usually notice fake auto parts by looking at the labels. When I come across a customer's car that has counterfeit parts, I always alert them of the danger it poses to them." points out Maumela.
Despite many crackdowns on criminal activity,the fake automobile parts market continues to thrive as consumers' affordability is threatened by a decline in South Africa’s economic climate, Nathaniel Gumbi, owner of NBW Gearbox in downtown Johannesburg, took a stance to only repair cars that have original parts.
"Even if the car is not fixed by us, we advise you to take out those parts because they are not safe." says Gumbi
South Africa's automotive bodies such as Tyre Equipment and Parts Association are working on creating a whistle-blower hotline where consumers and automotive businesses can report illicit activities.