The City of Johannesburg wants to begin a re-registration process of informal traders in certain areas, it said on Saturday.
"Next week, we begin a re-registration of the traders," said spokesman for the mayoral committee responsible for development planning and urban management, Thabo Rangwana.
Rangwana said the traders in question were those operating in Noord Street in central Johannesburg. The City had issued 800 legal trading permits in that area. However, investigations had uncovered that between 2000 and 3000 people in the area had permits and that all together there were 8000 traders in that space.
An audit was subsequently conducted and it emerged that some permits had been duplicated or illegally purchased, while some legal traders had leased out their spaces under irregular conditions.
"We want to engage with the legal traders," said Rangwana. He said the resolution of a meeting on Friday was that the best way to go forward was then to re-register the traders to find out who was legally allowed to be in the area. The plan was to begin the re-registration process on Monday.
Meanwhile, the South African National Traders's Retail Alliance claimed that the City had no plan of what to do after it evicted thousands of informal traders more than a month ago. "The City failed to produce a plan for the return of over 6000 victims of forced removals 32 days ago to their trading spaces," the alliance's spokesman Edmund Elias said in a statement.
He said the alliance wanted all the traders to be allowed back to their trading stations. Calling the situation a "massive humanitarian crisis of its own creation," the alliance said "meaningful engagement cannot take place without a plan on the table".
Rangwana, however, said the City sought a "common solution" that could be implemented together with traders. He said the eviction of illegal traders was key in being able to fight against urban decay. "This is not a programme that is targeted at hawkers or at sweeping away the poor or hawkers… The challenge is how [this trade] is conducted.
"The hawkers are saying they want to be back in the streets. We are saying that if we turn back, the situation will go back to what it was." – Sapa