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Cape Town - Shopping mall developers “bulldoze small businesses” to get what they want, a Cape Town township small business owner has told the Competition Commission.

Thandiswa Kama, who runs a butchery and chisa-nyama-type take-away business in Guguletu Square Mall, was speaking at the commission’s public hearings on the state of competition in the grocery- retail sector that commenced in Cape Town this week.

Kama told the commission on Tuesday that although her business had been at the mall since 2010, she only got her food licence last year.

She told Business Report after testifying that in her case it was about the developers of the Guguletu Square Mall, where they “just bulldoze small businesses like myself” to get what they want.

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“It is about protecting the interests of small businesses and from the government’s side it’s about protecting small businesses from developers.

“The developers came in and took over in the township, but what have they done for the community?” she asked.

There were reports prior to the mall being built that Guguletu residents and business owners were opposed to the development of the R350 million Guguletu Mall.

A resident claimed at the time that most local small business people in Guguletu would be left out, because only about 10 percent of businesses could afford the rent.

The purpose of the commission’s inquiry is to examine whether there were features or a combination of features in the industry that distorted or restricted competition.

The five-day public hearings kicked off with testimony from Guguletu entrepreneurs representing MJ Group of Companies and the Guguletu Liquor Traders’ Association.

In seeking to understand the general state of competition in the sector, the inquiry is probing six main areas.

These include the impact of expansion, diversification and consolidation of national supermarket chains on small and independent retailers; the impact of long-term exclusive leases on competition in the sector; and the dynamics of competition between local and foreign-owned small and independent retailers.

It is also examining the impact of regulations, including municipal town planning and by-laws on small and independent retailers; the impact of buyer groups on small and independent retailers; and the impact of certain identified value chains on the operations of small and independent retailers.

The four largest supermarket chains collectively account for more than 90 percent of the market and were able to operate as grocery anchor tenants in shopping centres and malls.

The Cape Town hearings end on Friday and will then move on to Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE