Street traders call for South Africans only to run stalls
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Durban - THE Concerned Informal Vendors Association has demanded that all street trading stalls must be occupied by South Africans.
The association marched to the Durban City Hall yesterday on Tuesday to engage with the city leadership. South African stallholders at the Church Walk Market (CWM) in the Durban CBD have been closed for more than a week, allegedly by the association. This is expected to have a ripple effect on other street trading sites in the city.
Stallholders at CWM said they traded in fear since the beginning of November when mobs shut down shops managed by emigrants from other African countries.
A fast-food stall owner, who employs 10 staff, said he was financially affected by the ongoing problems. He said a group of thugs lurked in the vicinity and destabilised legitimate and licensed traders. Traders pay a monthly license fee to the city of approximately R500 per stall.
A stall owner who has been trading for two decades and requested to remain anonymous said he agreed with some of the sentiments echoed by the association.
“I have witnessed many changes. There should be close scrutiny in the list of traders. Those with multiple stalls need to relinquish them. Established stallholders sold their places for large amounts of money to emigrants from other African countries. Foreign nationals have patience, even if they sell two items per day. Hopeful local traders need business training before they come on board,” he said.
Association spokesperson Themba Mkhize said they were concerned about the influx of emigrants trading when the local community was unemployed. He said they were aware of stalls being sold to emigrants and had been at loggerheads with the City for six weeks, trying to resolve this.
“There is too much corruption involved with street trading stalls. We want to administrate this process and ensure only local people own these stalls. We want a new system in place throughout the city and in the townships. Foreign nationals send their money back to their countries and they don’t vote in local government elections. Most of them don’t have proper documentation to be in the country. We don’t want people selling us sub-standard, expired or fake goods. This is not xenophobia. We have been commended by certain businesses for removing these stalls selling fake goods,” Mkhize said.
EThekwini Municipality spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the City was unaware of South African traders/stallholders selling their spaces or leasing out their stalls to emigrants. He said it was illegal for stalls to be sub-let.
Mayisela asked that those with information report the matter to the eThekwini Business Support Unit. He said there were 43 700 licensed street traders throughout eThekwini. He said the City had established a hawker unit located within Durban metro police responsible for enforcement of informal trading by-laws, which include removal of illegal traders contravening the City's by-laws. The City Law Enforcement Agency was responsible for taking action against illegal traders.
“Our staff conducts inspections on a daily basis. Traders found to contravene lease agreement conditions, or any provision of the by-laws are issued with a written warning, which culminates into a fine if the behaviour continues, thereafter revoking the lease,” Mayisela explained.
“The lease agreement signed between each individual trader and the municipality clearly states that sub-letting is not allowed. A trader found in violation of the condition of the agreement risks having his/her lease agreement cancelled.”
Mayisela said the City was unaware of individuals who intimidated informal traders, but said it would be investigated.
Police spokesperson Captain Nqobile Gwala said at midday on Sunday, a trader was selling clothes at the Church Walk Flea Market when four men approached him with sticks and knives.
“They grabbed the clothes from the floor and ran away. A case of robbery was opened at Durban Central SAPS,” she said.