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Mashaba defends MMC Mbundu against attacks

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba. Image: Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)

ActionSA leader Herman Mashaba. Image: Itumeleng English African News Agency (ANA)

Published Aug 4, 2022

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SIYABONGA SITHOLE

ActionSA president Herman Mashaba has come to the defence of his deployee in the City of Johannesburg Council, the MMC for economic development, Nkuli Mbundu, who he says is being attacked for enforcing the city’s by-laws against informal traders on De Villiers Street.

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This week, informal traders represented by the Social Economic Rights Institute (SERI) trading along De Villiers Street accused Mbundu of inciting violence against SERI’s employees after Mbundu shared a press statement with the contact details of SERI staffers on social media.

However, Mashaba says the outcry against Mbundu has nothing to do with the distribution of the press statement, which has resulted in SERI and some of the members being violently threatened, but to do with the fact that Mbundu is enforcing by-laws.

For over three weeks, informal traders were chased away from their stalls in the CBD as the city sought to enforce its by-laws and asked traders to verify themselves before they would be considered for a trading permit.

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“It is imperative to note that the facts of these events do not support the claims made by SERI. On 26 July, Nkuli Mbundu shared the SERI press statement on Twitter in order to communicate the city of Johannesburg’s position on the matter. He was in fact doing so to challenge falsehoods communicated by SERI relating to a legal case against the city of Johannesburg. The statement produced and placed onto social media by SERI included the names and contact numbers of their personnel on the press statement,” Mashaba said.

The former Joburg mayor said it was SERI that placed the contact details of its employees on the press release and its personnel had already conducted interviews based on the same press release regarding their position on the court case that the Solidarity organisation has won against Mbundu and the City of Joburg.

“Representatives of SERI made remarks that many people did not like, and consequently the contact details on Twitter made it possible for people to send messages and threats which are deeply regrettable.

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“ActionSA does not support any person being threatened or intimidated for the exercise of their constitutionally enshrined freedoms. That being said, it was in fact SERI that (put) out the contact details in social media and conducted interviews. These two events and any connection between them do not arise from Mbundu or ActionSA,” Mashaba added.

He said there was no basis to accuse Mbundu of having shared the press statement with the intention of causing harm to SERI employees and members, adding that the MMC was being blamed for implementing the informal trade policy and the city’s by-laws.

“I know too well what Mbundu is going through. Any (time) a politician seeks to address the challenges of illegal immigration or, in this case, people trading without licences because they are undocumented foreign nationals, SERI and other organisations come together to attack that politician,” Mashaba said.

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Meanwhile, SERI, which was involved in the litigation with the City of Joburg, has won its case and its more than 600 members trading on De Villiers Street have been ordered to return to their stalls.

The Johannesburg High Court ruled that the city must “reverse its illegal eviction of the affected informal traders” under the South African Informal Traders Forum.

Related Topics:

City of Joburg

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