The verification of street vendors in Johannesburg on Monday was chaotic, the South African National Traders' Retail Association said.
"It is total chaos as their documents are being verified one at a time," said spokesperson Edmund Elias.
He said thousands of displaced street traders gathered at the metro centre in Braamfontein for the verification process.
"Very few people have been processed since 8am. They are not given a slip or a piece of paper to indicate that they have registered."
City of Johannesburg spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said it agreed with informal traders' leaders on Saturday that the verification would be done block by block, starting with traders at Hoek, De Villiers, King George and Wanderers streets.
"We were expecting 120 people today [Monday], not the entire city," he said.
During the process, traders' leaders had asked that those at two more streets – President and Albertina Sisulu – should be added.
"The verification process seeks to register all traders who are legally supposed to be trading in the streets of Johannesburg," said Modingoane.
Operation Clean Sweep
Hawkers were removed from Johannesburg streets as part of Operation Clean Sweep.
He said the initiative was aimed at stopping illegal trading, illegal dumping, littering, land and building invasions, and other by-law contraventions.
"The City of Johannesburg acknowledges the relevance and contribution of informal trading to the economic and social life of the city."
Modingoane said informal trading provided income to the unemployed and represented an alternative to the established, formal retail sector, but that illegal traders would not be allowed in the streets of Johannesburg.
He said the verification process would establish whether traders were eligible to trade in the inner city, and would also establish whether they were legally in the country.
"The department of home affairs has been invited to assist in this regard," he said.
He said that during the verification process, the smartcards allowing traders to trade would be checked to see whether they were forged, after which qualifying traders would be allocated sites to trade.
"All legal traders must adhere to the house rules by keeping their trading places neat and allow for free flow of pedestrians and vehicles," said Modingoane. – Sapa