Media: Hawkers threaten court action against city

29 05 2009

May 28, 2009 Edition 1
Francis Hweshe
Source: Cape Argus

A GROUP of 450 traders is threatening to take the City of Cape Town to court after a fall-out with officials over the re-allocation of trading bays that are being renovated.

The Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association (Chata) of Mitchells Plain claims members have been marginalised, manipulated and ignored by the city in the re-allocation of trading bays at the Mitchells Plain town centre.
On Tuesday afternoon the traders staged a walk-out at the start of a meeting with city officials to address the issue, saying they objected to the re-allocation process.

Chata spokeswoman Mischka Cassiem said that city officials had not involved the traders during the re-allocation process

“This was regardless of the promises made on April 20 that all would be informed and included in the decision-making. The restructuring of the trading space in Mitchells Plain has not been beneficial to everyone, and the officials are going ahead with changes without any insight from the traders themselves,” said Cassiem.

She said traders were considering either court action or protest action.

Her organisation further claimed that officials were misleading them to “further their own agenda in upgrading Mitchells Plain as an area for private investors”.

The city has hit back, saying the demarcation process would go ahead as it had the backing of 1 500 traders – the majority – and was in line with the law.

“Council has also re-affirmed its position that all the users of the public space need to comply with the municipal by-laws and regulations, in particular, the Community Fire Safety by-law with regards to informal trading in the Mitchells Plain town centre walkways,” said Paul Williams, service co-ordinator, in the city’s department of economic and human development.

“Mitchells Plain Town Centre currently has walkways and squares that are extremely congested with informal traders and negatively impact on the public, formal and informal businesses and retailers.

“The trading in the walkways contravenes national legislation and municipal by-laws,” Williams said.

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