A young woman spent R170 on bottles of illicit skin lightening screams sold on the streets of Polokwane, Limpopo.

This was just hours after police confiscated illicit creams worth R700000 allegedly being smuggled into SA through the Groblersbrug border post to Botswana yesterday


Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the cargo was discovered when officials stopped and searched a truck with a foreign registration number. He said 40 boxes of Betasol and 2606 boxes of Epiderm cream were found hidden underneath bags of soya beans.

Ngoepe said they were trying to trace the driver of the truck after he fled from the scene during the search.

Betasol and Epiderm were among a list of products found to have harmful ingredients by a team of scientists from the University of Cape Town.

However, at the taxi rank market in Polokwane CBD yesterday, Rejoice Mehlape, 28, bought four bottles of Clair cream. Mehlape said she had been using the product since 2010 to brighten her complexion and remove pimples. “I hear people saying that these products are bad for your health. But . creams from the pharmacies don’t work for me.”

Mehlape said her sister was using the same cream and both were happy their complexion had become lighter. “There is no woman who does not want to be a yellow bone.”

Mehlape said some women gained a lighter complexion but the rest of their body remained dark. “I mix mine with my lotion so everything looks the same,” she said.

A 26-year-old man who sells the product said: “These women know that the creams can damage their skin but they don’t care. They just want to be yellow and pretty.”

The man said in a good month he makes about R4000 profit. “Police don’t want us to sell these things. They say it is illegal but there are no jobs and we need to feed our families,” he said.

The man said police sometimes raided the market and confiscated their stock.

“They are wasting their time. If they want to stop these creams from getting into the country they must arrest the smugglers and leave us alone. Those smugglers at the border are making big money.”

Another vendor, 39, who also asked not to be named, said Betasol was the most popular cream. “Women like it because it makes them look lighter. I can even see a difference in my customers.”


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