The informal traders held what they termed a “crisis” meeting in the central business district (CBD) yesterday.
Speaking to The Citizen, president of the SA National Traders and Retail Alliance (Santra), Livingston Mantanga, accused the city of evicting informal traders illegally.
“A few weeks ago, we held a meeting with officials from the city who indicated that they wanted to embark on a clean up operation, and we all agreed that informal traders who have been paying monthly rental fees to the city or those who have permission to do so would not be affected.
“To our surprise, Metro police officials started removing everyone selling from the streets, ignoring the fact that street trading for some of us is the only source of income,” Mantanga said.
Almost every stand or demarcated space which was used by traders was empty yesterday.
Mantanga said a large amount of goods belonging to street traders, stored in an agreed-upon storage facility at the end of Joubert and De Villiers streets, was also confiscated yesterday without warning or notice.
“These latest actions are a clear illustration of Parks Tau’s determination to destroy the informal economy,” he added.
Meanwhile a march by informal traders has been planned for Friday.
In response, Tau’s spokesman Fred Mokoko said the operation is not solely focusing on street traders. “We are looking at issues of legality and accessibility to the city, and therefore our view is that we cannot just fold our arms and tolerate dirtiness and anarchy in the City of Joburg,” he said.
Commenting on the street traders, Mokoko said there is currently an investigation under way aimed at establishing whether the street traders have permission to trade on the streets and how they acquired permission to do so.
“Those who have proper documentation or permission will have their demarcated spaces reopened and reallocated.
“We are going to remove pavement businesses that have been set up,” Mokoko stressed.