/ 12 May 2010

Hawkers protest at Soccer City

Hawkers protested outside Safa House in Soweto on Wednesday, saying they were struggling to survive after being evicted from around Soccer City stadium.

“Now that they have moved me away, I don’t know what I am going to do. Where do I go?” asked Moffat Sebolelo, 48, who said he had been trading at the stadium for 20 years.

“I was selling food to the construction workers who were building Soccer City and I must tell you that I used to make a lot of money,” he told the South African Press Association.

He was one of about 100 informal traders who handed over a memorandum of grievances to SA Football Association (Safa) legal official Mpho Thothela.

The traders from around Gauteng complained they were being excluded from benefiting from the Soccer World Cup.

A guard working at Soccer City said the traders carrying placards had tried to get into the venue but were not allowed to do so.

“We are under very strict instructions not to let these protesters into Soccer City,” said the guard, who did not want to be named.

The group belonging to the SA Informal Traders’ Forum marched to Safa House next to Soccer City to hand over their memorandum.

Salome Mamabolo, 56, said she was told that they would eventually have to move further away once the tournament was on.

The hawkers were currently situated outside Soccer City.

“They told us that we must not be in the view of Soccer City … they said we will have to move far, far away to the Sasol garage.” The garage was about three kilometres from the stadium.

“You tell me who is going to support us then? We are going to be left with nothing,” Mamabolo said.

SA Informal Traders’ Forum media co-ordinator Thabo Koole said that many of the workers who traded outside Soccer City during its construction felt they were being left out.

“They feel that they provided food for most of the construction workers, they feel they should be rewarded as well.”

He said they were also demanding tickets to one of the World Cup games.

The traders also wanted provision to be made by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) for them to ensure that their trading zones were hygienic.

“They want tents to be put up by the LOC so that things can be in a hygienic condition.”

The SA Informal Traders Forum, made up of 32 structures, had given the LOC seven days to respond to the memorandum of grievances. — Sapa