Male’ City Council’s Trade Section has fined Fantasy Bakers Rf 6500 (US$420) for selling goods produced with expired products, City Mayor Ali Manik has confirmed.
Earlier today, local media Haveeru reported that Council Health Section Manager Hassan ‘Jambu’ Afeef had ‘unofficially’ issued the Rf 6,500 fine, and was consequently stripped of his duties.
However Manik told Minivan News today that Afeef had not been removed from his duties.
“They are trying to damage my reputation,” Afeef claimed. “Currently I am on vacation and I will not respect any decision to suspend me.”
“Hassan is still with us, of course, he has not left his duties,” said the Mayor, who was puzzled by the question. “The Rf 6,500 fine was approved by the Council, so of course it is official.”
The Mayor said an additional Rf100,000 (US$6500) fine from the City Council may be “issued after the court case”, for which police are currently conducting an investigation of Bakers Fantasy on the Prosecutor General’s order.
The Mayor could not say if the court would also issue a fine to the company.
Speaking today to Minivan News, Afeef said media reports were “incorrectly based on false information provided by certain council members.”
“The council decided to fine Fantasy for Rf100,000. Officials from the Trade Section subsequently went to Fantasy and reduced the fine to Rf 6,500,” he said. “It was not me, and it should be noted that some of the council’s members are not very responsible and are not even not cooperating with responsible members of the council.”
He said the decision to reduce the fine to Rf ,500 was made by him, and that some council members are “generally uninformed of council activities.”
“I was told that I am attempting to damage a business and that it would give a bad name to the Fantasy stores when I brought the issue to the council,”’ he said. “I said ‘I’m working for the people,’ and that it was the citizens who eat the products and it is my responsibility to stop it.’”
Afeef said media had been informed of the council’s statements on the Fantasy issue and that council members responsible had since apologised to him.
“They called me and said I was right about the Fantasy issue and the next day they wanted to erase the minutes of that meeting, but I did not allow this,” he said. “I am an MDP councilor. If they taking a salary from the citizens’ money, they should be sincere to the citizens. This a setup to damage my reputation and good name,” Afeef claimed.
Afeef reiterated that he remains fully employed as head of the Council’s Health Section, which he said the President and First Lady regarded “as an important social institution.”
Bakers Fantasy was closed on October 28 by Male’ City Council. The council subsequently inspected three storehouses and Aioli Restaurant, which is owned by Fantasy Pvt. Ltd. Expired products were found in two of three storehouses, however Aioli was found clean.
Fantasy Store was closed by police for two days on November 7 while police searched for expired goods, but was re-opened in order to protect business operations. Police intervened after the store had ignored an order from Community Health Services, which has legal authority to order temporary closures.
Fantasy shops are known for imported products and quality produce, and are popular among locals and expatriates.