Informal traders’ application ‘not urgent’, says judge

The Johannesburg high court ruled on Wednesday that an urgent application brought by the South African National Traders Retail Association and the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) to have street traders in the city reinstated is not urgent and must therefore be struck off the roll.

Yesterday, Judge Ramarumo Monama? listened to lengthy submissions by the street traders' lawyers, Paul Kennedy and Chris Georgiades, on how the City of Johannesburg had violated its own by-laws.

He also listened to submissions by Gcinumuzi Malindi, who was representing the City of Johannesburg and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department.

Monama issued a brief judgment on Wednesday and ordered that the matter be struck off the roll because it was not urgent and directed the two parties to pay their own costs.

SAITF and over 1 000 traders had launched an urgent application on November 19 seeking an order that they be permitted to trade in a manner consistent with sections nine and ten of the City's informal trading by-laws and at locations occupied immediately before their removal.

However, the matter was postponed to Tuesday after the City filed an intention to oppose the application.

'Very disappointed'
The City argued on Tuesday that the matter was not urgent as the parties would have their legal rights upheld when the matter was heard as part of the normal course of legal action.

The matter was then set to appear in court in March 2014.

Georgiades clarified that they could not appeal the judgment as it was not a final order.

The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa's Nothandazo Zondo, the organisation that instructed the attorneys, said they were very disappointed with the outcome of the matter.

We are very disappointed with the outcome; it came as a complete shock to us," Zondo said after the court case. "What we have to do now is study the reasons of the judgment."?

A visibly disappointed hawker, Mthelisi Sibanda, said the judgment had confirmed a bleak future for hawkers.

"We had pinned our hopes on the courts, but clearly we were wrong," said Sibanda.

A group of about 30 street traders that had gathered outside the court reacted angrily to the news of the judgment and threatened to disrupt activities in the city.

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