Mail and Guardian
The eThekwini municipality has been accused of defying a court order after it locked traders out of the early morning market on Monday despite the Durban High Court ruling they can trade.
Chaos broke out when metro police officers fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people who wanted to break the market gate after the municipality prevented traders without valid permits from entering.
Two traders were injured by rubber bullets and were taken to hospital.
Senior Superintendent Joyce Khuzwayo said: “The municipality has made it clear that it wants to sort out the issue of people who do not have permits. The traders then decided to adopt the ‘injury to one is injury to all’ strategy.”
The city locked out hundreds of traders after it emerged that many were trading without permits. The court at the weekend ruled that traders be granted occupation and possession of their stalls.
“As far as we know, the court stated that we should be allowed to trade but the council has sent police to shoot at us. The city is defying the court order and that is very sad,” said traders’ spokesperson Roy Chetty.
Khuzwayo said the municipality was sorting out the issue of permits so that it could arrange another venue for traders.
“Traders are being removed from the market to make way for the multimillion-rand development of Warwick Junction, which will include a mall,” she said.
She said it was important for the municipality to ensure all traders had permits so they would be provided with an alternative place to do business.
Philip Sithole, head of the city’s business support unit, said the municipality had not defied the court order.
“The doors are open for people who have permits and they were open even before the court ruling. The problem that we have is that legal traders have decided to sympathise with those who do not have permits.”
Traders said they would continue to put pressure on the municipality not to demolish the market.
“Some of us have been trading here for more than 20 years and we believe that between 5 000 and 8 000 people will be affected in terms of income if this market is closed,” said Chetty.
He said poor people were being stripped of their opportunity to generate money so greedy developers would get space to build the mall.
“I smell corruption in this whole thing. I believe that certain people in the municipality will benefit a lot if the mall is built,” said Chetty. — Sapa