Pretoria - After three days of mass action yielded no positive outcome, informal traders intend turning up the heat on the Tshwane municipality by sleeping at the gates to the municipal offices at Isivuno House on Friday evening.
Mary Ngema, deputy secretary of Tshwane Barekisi Forum, told the Pretoria News there was a need to intensify the protest.
“We have been marching to Isivuno House since Tuesday and spending the days with no income, yet the mayor (Kgosientso Ramokgopa) still has not come to address us about our demands,” Ngema said.
“Tonight (on Friday) we will take our protest a notch up by bringing blankets and pillows and sleeping here.”
Ngema reiterated her earlier stance that police could shoot them if they so wished, like they did to striking Marikana mine workers.
The group’s organiser Dan Matlanyane said they would continue with the protests.
“Hopefully someone will listen to us eventually. Perhaps authorities in higher spheres of government would help us since Ramokgopa is seemingly not interested,” he said.
The number of Barekisi members who had gathered outside Isivuno House on Thursday was lower than that in the previous two days. There was a heavy police presence on Lillian Ngoyi Street near the entrance to the building.
The traders were in full voice, singing Struggle songs and calling for the resignation of Ramokgopa and his administration.
The three-day protest started on Tuesday when the informal traders marched from Bosman Streetto Isivuno House to deliver a petition.
After insisting that the petition be collected by Ramokgopa and that he address them about their grievances, they agreed to the mayoral committee member for economic development Subesh Pillay’s accepting the petition.
However, the traders did not budge on their demand that Ramokgopa speak to them and continued to wait near the building, with their leadership occasionally talking to police negotiators.
Day two saw the informal traders running amok in the city centre, attacking those who had not joined the march and throwing missiles at business premises.
Municipal spokesman Blessing Manale said the city had been responding to most of the issues as raised by Barekisi, members of the public, business chambers and other informal traders’ forums. These include harassment by metro police, corruption with the issuing of trading permits, sub-letting of stalls, bribery and vandalisation of stalls.
Manale said Barekisi had not provided the city with basic information like its constitution, members list and certificate of incorporation as an NGO or NPO.