On Monday January 25, law enforcement broke down stall structures, packed up wooden pallets and produce left overnight, when traders had left for home. Three traders in particular were affected by the raid.
Kulsum Baker, vice-chairperson of the United Hawkers’ Forum, said they were in negotiations with the City of Cape Town regarding overnight storage and improvements in the Town Centre.
Discussions between the City and the forum have been ongoing for more than a decade, she said.
In November last year the traders marched to the Civic Centre in the city centre and handed a memorandum to Grant Twigg, the mayoral committee member for urban management, demanding that he look into the various crimes, including drug peddling, selling of counterfeit goods, prostitution, theft of belongings, and theft from vehicles, and delivery trucks happening daily in the central business district.
Ms Baker said: “Fine, we understand that they need to do their job but why only these three traders? Why not everyone,” she asked.
She said traders had to fork out more than R2 000 to cover fines and pay release fees for their confiscated goods.
“We complain about people who sleep under crates in the marketplace. We complain about the illegal traders and the incessant crime in our place of business but nothing gets done,” she said.
Trader Shirley Hamit said people’s livelihoods were at stake and that they could ill afford fines, while the City promised storage overnight.
“Every day we have to scrub our trading areas but there in the lanes daily clean-up operations happen,” she said.
Trader Ebrahim Diedericks had to pay R2 200 in penalties before his 140 pockets of potatoes were returned.
He has been trading in the Town Centre for more than 30 years, making a living and feeding his 14 children.
“Ek verstaan dus hulle werk maar dié is ook my werk en dus hoe ek kos op die tafel sit,” said Mr Diedericks.
The Informal Trading By-law as gazetted in November 2009 (Gazette no. 6677) prohibits the overnighting and erecting of structures in informal trading spaces.
On New Year’s Day, Friday January 1, a fire ravaged a few informal trading stalls and Clicks in the Town Centre. The ensuing damage resulted in the beauty and health store only reopening its doors a week later.
Solomon Philander, councillor for Ward 79, which included the Town Centre and the CBD and chairman of Wolfgat Sub-council, said they had to start somewhere in cleaning up the Town Centre.
He said everyone was equal before the law and that they would clamp down on legal and illegal traders.
“They must be held accountable and responsible for leaving their trading spaces clear before retiring in the evenings,” he said.
Mr Twigg said the City’s law enforcement department has conducted various operations intended to deal with multiple challenges the City faces related to infringement of the Informal Trading By-law. “These operations are led and planned by law enforcement.
“Area Economic Development (AED) supports the operations and can confirm that the intention and plan was not targeted at any specific trader but on actions that do not comply with the Informal Trading By-law,” he said.
He said AED and trader leadership have agreed to pilot an “access permit”’ to all legal traders.
This card will have all the details of the traders, including a picture.
No trader will be allowed to sell their goods if they do not display this card as and when required by law enforcement and or appointed private security or City officials. This project will be implemented before next month as a pilot project in the Town Centre.
“Traders are also compelled by the Informal Trading By-law to leave their trading space clean when they leave,” he said.
Mr Twigg said that Wolfgat Sub-council also agreed to provide overnight storage for 30 informal traders in the Town Centre.
The AED is working closely with the traders’ leadership to ensure that the design of the storage space is completed by April.
The traders’ leadership will finalise an agreement that will not negatively impact the fruit and vegetable traders while the storage space is being completed.
“Traders in the main area are reminded to remove their goods after trading times as outlined in the Informal Trading By-law,” he said.
Mr Twigg also encouraged traders to participate in the Informal Trading Plan review, which aims to improve on the trading challenges and which is expected to be completed by June after being endorsed by the council.
Wayne Dyason, spokesperson for City Law Enforcement, said the raid was done to address the constant complaints of illegal traders.
“No individuals were targeted,” he said. “The officers started their inspections at a random point and could only deal with three impoundments before the trucks were full and further impoundments were no longer possible.”
Mr Dyason said compliance notices were issued to all breaking the law and that further operations have been planned to address those who continue to operate in defiance of the by-laws.