Pretoria - Informal traders who almost brought the Pretoria central business district to a standstill have threatened to return to Isivuno House on Wednesday to demand that mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa address them on their demands.
Members of the Tshwane Barekisi Forum, who had promised to make the city ungovernable, brought the CBD to close to a standstill for most of on Tuesday.
They converged in Bosman Street and marched to the Tshwane offices at Isivuno House to hand over a petition.
Allegations have since been made that the Tshwane Barekisi Forum is not recognised as an organisation representing informal traders.
There were severe traffic delays as hundreds of informal traders wielding sjamboks, knobkierries and other weapons marched through the streets.
They were holding placards with messages insulting Ramokgopa and the mayoral committee member (MMC) for community safety, Terrence Mashego, and calling for their resignations.
The placards read, “Ramokgopa is a liar”, “The most corrupt mayor ever” and “Ramokgopa must step down”.
They described the mayor as nyoso – a township term from Soshanguve meaning nonsense.
Some of the marchers wore red Economic Freedom Fighters outfits, while others carried SACP flags and T-shirts with a picture of Forster Rivombo, a trader who was allegedly shot dead by Tshwane officers in January.
The marchers emptied refuse bags and rubbish bins along their route, leaving the streets looking like dumps.
They barricaded some of the streets as they went, occasionally sitting or lying down in the middle of busy intersections.
Business people fearing possible looting closed their shops, while office workers and flat dwellers watched through windows and from balconies.
In the petition, the informal traders claimed metro police were thieves and murderers.
They described Mashego and Ramokgopa as “liars” who didn’t care for the poor.
They accused Tshwane of not working with democratically elected structures, and of aligning itself with “ghost organisations”.
They demanded that metro police officers stop stealing their stock and that Rivombo’s killers be prosecuted.
They said that stock confiscated by metro police was not returned.
There was a long stand-off with police at Isivuno House when the marchers demanded that the petition be received by Ramokgopa or MMC for economic development Subesh Pillay.
Barekisi leader Shoes Maloka said the informal traders were concerned that the petition would go unanswered like the two they had submitted last year.
Police initially said neither official was available, but Pillay eventually received it.
But then the informal traders changed their tune, and said they wanted their petition to be received by the mayor personally.
“The reason is that we want to hear from the horse’s mouth, unlike in the past when our petitions have been ignored,” said Barekisi deputy secretary Mary Ngema.
Mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale said the call for Ramokgopa and Mashego to resign was unfounded, misplaced and not informed by reason, and was a publicity gimmick used by Barekisi in an attempt to remain relevant.
“Some of Barekisi leaders are not even informal traders, but medium-sized companies using the forum for political scores before the ANC regional conference where Ramokgopa will seek re-election as (regional) chairman of the party.”
Manale said Barekisi was not recognised by the city as it had failed to provide such basic information as a constitution, a members’ list or certificate of incorporation as an NGO or NPO.
He said the city recognised the Tshwane Informal Traders Forum, Tshwane Informal Traders Council, Tshwane Nafcoc and Tshwane Micro Entrepreneurs League.
The shooting of Rivombo remained in the hands of the police and the city was awaiting a decision by the national director of public prosecutions.
“Rivombo was not an informal trader.
“He was visiting his brother, who is an informal trader.”
The city had responded before to most of the issues raised.