Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)
Picture: Doctor Ngcobo/African News Agency(ANA)

Durban informal traders count the costs after looters destroyed their goods

By Nonhlanhla Nozizwe Hlatshwayo Time of article published Jul 23, 2021

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DURBAN - DURBAN informal traders said last week’s looting and unrest had made difficult trading conditions even worse.

January Thala, an informal trader who has a stall outside the Durban Station, said most of his stock was burnt last week.

“I have a shop at home that my mom manages, and I sell here in town. Most of my stock stays at home and that shop was burnt to ashes last week.”

Thala said the little stock he had left was what he had stored at a taxi rank in the CBD, and which had fortunately not been looted.

“My items were some of the few that were not looted, I wouldn’t have been left with anything if these items had been looted,” he said.

He said business had been slow this week as only a few people were coming into the CBD.

“Things are not normal at all, and it is a strain on my small business.”

Another trader, who sells cooked meals to commuters and taxi drivers at a rank in the CBD, said she would have to spend more on goods because of last week’s unrest.

“The store we buy from is currently closed after it was looted, and we have to spend money to travel to another store to buy the items we need daily,” said Thandi Dlamini.

Dlamini said even though her stock was not looted, she had had to buy new stock as last week’s products had spoiled.

“I had bought the stock for the week on the day we were told to stay home because of the protest. When I came back, almost everything was spoilt and I had to stand in long queues to buy new stock,” she said.

Dlamini lamented how, since the national lockdown in March last year, trading conditions had become more difficult, and generating an income had become even harder.

The South African Informal Traders Alliance (Saita) said it condemned acts of wanton destruction of property, wholesale theft and looting.

“Saita has hundreds of traders who ply their businesses within the precincts of shopping centres, some of which have been targeted,” they stated.

The alliance said that the effects of the unrest would be felt by the marginalised community they formed part of.

“The damages may run into hundreds of millions of rand; we know that this money will be recuperated through price rises, which will affect the poor communities.”

Simphiwe Msolo, of Saita in KwaZulu-Natal, said it was assessing the damages so it could help the affected traders.

“People are still coming in and we have been going around Ladysmith so far. We have not been able to reach all of them, as some are still at home. We plan to compile a list of the registered informal traders and help where we can,” he said.

Saita has called on the government to provide monetary aid of R1 000 per person per month, and to exercise rigorous oversight on price increases of essential foodstuffs over the next few months.


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