Informal traders complain that they continue to face harassment despite the standing court order. Picture: Rapula Moatshe

[email protected]

Police were called in on Tuesday morning at Denneboom Train Station in Mamelodi to intervene in the fight between the informal traders and taxi drivers.

This was after a group of taxi drivers threatened to forcefully remove traders from the site earmarked for a R1.3 billion mall construction.

For months traders had been embroiled in a legal fight with the mall developer Isibonelo Property Services, accusing the company of trampling on their Constitutional right to make a living.

In February this year, they took developers and the City of Tshwane to the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria after they were ordered to vacate their trading area and make way for the mall project.

The City was also accused of disconnecting electricity and water supply to the shelters used by traders. The court ordered that power and water connections be restored.

A court order was also issued stipulating that traders should not leave the area until they had been provided with alternative trading space containers, in which they could ply their trade.

Last week, traders lodged another application in the high court, complaining that developers and the City were in contempt of the February court order.

Informal traders complain that they continue to face harassment despite the standing court order. Video: Rapula Moatshe

The City was implicated in the case after it apparently ordered the developers to erect a fence around the perimeters of the street vendors' trading space.

Traders told the Pretoria News that taxi men unexpectedly arrived at their trading area at around 8am, demanding that they pack their belongings and vacate the site.

"They told us that they would want the construction of the mall to go on,"said one of the traders.

Traders however refused to leave and called in the police, who came to quell tension by asking taxi drivers to desist from making threats against the traders.

Taxi drivers, who refused to be identified, accused traders of delaying the mall development by refusing to relocate from the construction site.

A street vendor Gloria Nkwatse lamented the bad treatment from taxi men, claiming they were sent by the mall developers.

She said traders were in most instances let down by the police, who failed to stop the demolition of their stalls last month.

Nkwatse said she would like the Minister of Police Fikile Mbalula to come down to Denneboom to read out the court order to the police and developers.

"Maybe if Mbalula came down here to read it out for them, things could get better. We want him to also explain to us if Mamelodi has a police station or not. Everytime when we report to the police our harassment at the hands of developers, the City and taxi drivers, the police refuse to take any action,"she said.

Another trader Mercia Monyai said: "We don't have money to take care of our children's school fees anymore. My children are reminding me every day that they want to go to school. I have two children and I am self-employed. We have tried to ask the police to assist us in terms of enforcing the court order but they just look at those who harsass us and do nothing,"she said.

Another trader Anna Ramphisa complained that she had fallen sick because of the ongoing harassment meted against them.

"I used to provide for my family but now I am unable to because of the ongoing harassment. The developer has failed to provide us with enough containers. We have asked Isibonelo if we would come back to trade here after the mall had been built, but there is no answer,"she said.

Ramphisa was still unhappy with the demolition of their stalls recently, saying thye lost everything that belonged to them.

"We want the City of Tshwnae and developers to repay damages to our goods," Ramphisa said.