Town Centre informal traders are furious that Law Enforcement officers confiscated their goods, among them canned food, biscuits and cold drinks, on Thursday November 3.
Angry trader Louise Davids said the officials took 10 cans of food from her stand.
“I asked them why they are taking my items. They said it was because there were dents in the tins. We have been selling the items for a long time and no one has complained about the goods.
“We are trying to make an honest living and we pay to sell our items on the spot. So all we are asking is that the City be considerate, especially where our business is concerned,” she said.
Faeeda Dollie, who has been trading in Harmony Square for more than 25 years, said the officers took her cooldrinks, biscuits and sweets.
“We were trading as normal, when the officers approached my stand and surrounded the place. The items were in the trolley and when I turned around they started packing it away.
“They took our stuff without any documentation. And they were extremely rude, when I asked them why they are taking my stuff. This worries me because this business is our bread and butter, then they come around taking our goods,” she said.
Trader Cassiem Williams said some of the items were not past their sell-by date but were still confiscated.
“These people are also trying to make a living, some of the items were not expired but were taken. One of my concerns is where do the items go,” he said, speculating that they may be going to officials’ homes.
Mr Williams added that crime was still rampant in the Town Centre and that the City should shift their focus to criminal activity instead.
“I can’t understand that there is so much crime inside the Town Centre – drugs, robberies and break-ins – but the City focuses on confiscating goods,” he said.
JP Smith, mayoral committee member for safety and security, said Law Enforcement had assisted City Health in the operation which was a response to complaints of expired food being sold. He said search warrants were not required for impoundments if a by-law has been transgressed.
Mr Smith said about six to eight officers were deployed to the Town Centre every day and that the City planned to bolster this number in the near future.
Siyabulela Mamkeli, mayoral committee member for health, said the City’s environmental health practitioners tried to visit the area as often as possible, but given their limited resources and the broad scope of their mandate, their operations tended to be more complaint-driven.
He said in terms of National Food Regulations, the expiry date was there to ensure that the product was still safe and that it had retained all its nutritional properties.
“Perishables and cold chain goods should not be sold past the sell-by dates. With regard to shelf stable goods, it could still be safe to use, but the nutritional value may diminish after that.
“All businesses, including informal traders, are bound by the Food Regulations, but also other legislation including the Business Act, zoning scheme, building regulations, fire safety legislation and the Tobacco Control Act,” he said.
Mr Mamkeli said the environmental health practitioners are mandated to conduct visits to business premises at least twice a year, but if problems were identified or complaints received, more regular inspections were carried out until the problem was resolved.
Traders can report any concerns around food safety to their nearest Environmental Health office or lodge complaints with the City’s call centre on 0860 103 089.