ANGRY hawkers who have been removed from the streets of the inner city by metro police, gathered outside council headquarters yesterday, claiming mayor Kgosientso (Sputla) Ramokgopa was the “mayor of nyaope” (a concoction of dagga and heroin).
Their chants were backed by accusations that, while metro police clamped down on street vendors selling mostly fruits and vegetables, drug dealers were allowed to roam free.
Charmaine Makgalathiba, an 18-year-old woman whose aunt, Margaret Makgalathiba, sells nuts on the city’s streets, says she does not feel safe when she walks along Brown Street, because of robbers and drug dealers.
“If selling on the street is illegal, then why are the people selling drugs not stopped as well?” she asked.
We voted for him (Ramokgopa) and now he is drunk on power, Tshwane Informal Traders Forum (TITF) member Shoes Maloka told the crowd of marchers brandishing papers that read, “ANC give back our votes” and “DA is our last hope”.
“There are people selling nyaope in the city until 11 at night and he (Ramokgopa) cannot catch them. But he wants to remove us for selling food. He must be smoking nyaope himself,” he Maloka said.
Ramokgopa was the one sending cops to chase hawkers from the streets, he said.
Juliette Ngobeni, who sells a variety of fruits and snacks on the corner of Thabo Sehume (Andries) and Minnaar streets, spoke of her concern: “They do not want us to sell. And we have to pay for more than one licence to sell in one spot, where there is not even shelter from the rain.”
A memorandum handed to the council was received by Tshwane MMC for housing Joshua Ngonyama. He promised to forward it to Ramokgopa and said a response could be expected after 14 days.
Among the many demands in the memorandum was a call for immediate intervention by the mayor’s office, a task team to look into the process of licence applications, setting up a policy team, involving informal traders in decision-making and a relocation plan that will include the development of infrastructure for vendors.
TITF secretary Elliot Nkadimeng said those selling on the streets were being removed because “they create human traffic and make pavements dirty”.
“We are against his (Ramokgopa’s) decision, because he is not providing an alternative but removing people altogether,” he said.
“We have a proposal, but cannot get hold of him; they tell us he is in China, Britain and so forth.”
TITF proposes that pavements be demarcated for informal traders – to control “human traffic” – and licences be introduced that have a penalty of sorts for littering, and also forbidding loitering by friends of the sellers. – Cadet News Agency