Media: Traders furious as cops dismantle their stalls

10 03 2010

See also a radio786 interview with trader Mischka Cassiem
March 09, 2010 Edition 1
NIKITA SYLVESTER Staff Reporter – Cape Argus

INFORMAL traders in central Mitchells Plain have clashed with police over permits.

Chaos erupted in the town centre yesterday morning when nearly 100 traders reacted angrily to the arrival of metro police who said they had been instructed by city officials to remove any structures which blocked the walkways.Many traders were unsure why they were being moved, and started swearing at police as they tried desperately to hold on to their goods and belongings.

Police broke down all structures that were not in a demarcated block, confiscating goods, including fresh produce.

Hawker Elizabeth Marais said she had been trading there for nearly 20 years. “They are taking our livelihood… How must we survive?” she said.

Another trader said she was a single mother supporting four children and 16 grandchildren, with no other source of income. She said she was very unhappy that they had not been treated in a “decent” manner.

In May last year informal traders threatened to take the City of Cape Town to court after a run-in with officials about the re-allocation of trading bays that were being renovated.

The Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association of Mitchells Plain said members had been manipulated and ignored by the city in the reallocation process.

At a meeting with city officials on the issue, traders staged a walk-out, saying they objected to the entire process.

Paul Williamson, service co-ordinator for the city, said yesterday that traders had been notified in advance about the move, necessitated by congestion in the walkways.

“Traders have known for over a year they need to trade in the existing squares and not in the walkways,” he said.

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