Media: Hawkers gear up for a fight

30 01 2010

2010-01-29 06:13:19 – VOCFM

The plight of informal traders in the Western Cape came under the spotlight on Wednesday morning at a meeting held at the Epping Market during which concerns were raised about the strict by-laws which the City of Cape Town has implemented. Approximately 60 hawkers from the Western Cape came together at the market to discuss various areas of concern to them.According to Mieshka Cassiem from the Mitchells Plain Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association, concerns were mostly raised about the by-law that is being used to evict traders, as well the permit system that the City of Cape will be implementing. “All the hawkers of the Western Cape got together to tackle the issue of the by-law of the city that has been implemented all over the Western Cape. There is a big challenge where the City is concerned, but there are talks that we will take the fight nationally,” said Cassiem.

However, there were no officials from the City of Cape Town present at the meeting on Wednesday morning. But according to Cassiem, two weeks ago a meeting was held at the Epping Market where the Chief Law Enforcement officer was present. She explained that at this meeting she raised the question of possibly changing the current by-law which the city is using to evict traders from their trading areas.

“If the City can change by-laws whenever they want to, I’m sure that this by-law that they have implemented now that affects the hawkers, where they won’t be able to trade where they want to, I’m sure they can change the by-law if they want”, said Cassiem.

Concern

The informal traders’ attorney, Igsaan Higgins explained that there is a growing concern amongst the traders, some of whom have been trading for the past 50 years in the same place, that they may lose their “bread and butter”. “The traders are concerned that their right to trade will be affected by the by-law in a negative way whereby the City will restrict their right to trade. They have already been issued with certain notices that say they cannot trade at night,” said Higgins.

He explained that traditionally one would still have being able to purchase some goods like potatoes after hours from the informal traders. “Traditionally for the past 50 years they have been trading at night and now for the City to just come along and say there is a by-law now that prevents them from doing so at night is a bit unfair,” the lawyer said.

Higgins said that the short, medium and long term goals have been put in place. The short term goal would be to stop the harassment by law enforcement officers. Their medium term goal would be to work out a proper infrastructure and the long term goal would be to ensure that there is sustained economic activity amongst the traders.

When asked if the City of Cape Town had held public hearings on the new by-law which was implemented, Higgins replied that he was not aware of any public hearings that was held on the proposed by law and that he did not know what kind of consultation process the City of Cape Town had used. VOC (Dorianne Arendse)

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