Informal traders to take City of Joburg to court

The SA Informal Trader's Forum (SAITF) announced plans on Sunday to take the City of Johannesburg to court about the removal of informal traders in the Johannesburg CBD.

In a statement, SAITF said the court action followed weeks of speaking to the city in order to find solutions to the evictions of traders.

"The City of Joburg, in its clean sweep operation, removed illegal and legal traders regardless of whether one was in possession of a permit, lease or not," it said in a statement.

"The re-allocation of traders has not commenced and the officials from the city are not providing information on the delays, but keeping to their plans of making sure the traders have nothing to take home…."

SAITF said it participated in meetings with the city at which it was decided that a verification process be done at the beginning of November, with the relocation of traders from November 11.

SAITF, the One Voice Hawkers' Association, the African Traders' Committee and the Workers and Socialist Party would take legal action through the Socio Economic Rights Institute [Seri].

Urgent application
They had already served letters of demand on Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau and various other officials, giving them until November 18 to respond.

"Should the city fail to respond, Seri has been instructed to make an urgent application to the high court for appropriate relief," said SAITF.

The City of Johannesburg's mayoral spokesperson was not available for comment.

Meanwhile, the SA National Traders' Retail Alliance (Santra) said 12 people in Johannesburg metro police uniforms, travelling in City Power cars, were robbing traders of their goods.

"The clean up of the poor campaign is no longer in the hands of the Mayoral Committee, but has clearly been taken over by thugs employed by the city," Santra said in a statement

It claimed the 12 people stole stock from traders, who had allocated spaces, in Kerk Street on Saturday.

No receipts were given to the traders for the stock taken, it said.

Johannesburg metro police spokeperson Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said corruption would not be tolerated and he urged people to report what had happened so it could be investigated.

"If there is an allegation of officers being corrupt they must lay a formal complaint with internal affairs' offices in Johannesburg so that there can be an investigation," he said.

"If it is true that those officers are corrupt, then they will appear before a disciplinary hearing and get dismissed…."

The city has been conducting a process to register all legal traders on the streets of the city.

The process was started after it was found that there were discrepancies between the allocated stalls on the city's database and the number of stalls that were observed.

It was found that several traders were being allocated smaller areas, and that this was creating overcrowding. It was also found that some stands were being traded and leased illegally.

The process was initially meant to focus on seven streets, but it was later agreed to extend it to 17 streets. – Sapa

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