An association of informal traders is asking government to help local traders compete with immigrants in the retail sector, where they say foreign-owned businesses were stifling their growth.
This comes a day after hundreds of immigrants and South Africans led an anti-xenophobia march in Johannesburg, where protesters were saying foreigners did not steal local jobs, but created them.
But South African Spaza and Tuckshop Association (Sasta) president Rose Khumalo said on Wednesday that informal businesses owned by foreigners not only pose health and safety problems in communities, but often ran South African traders out of business.
“We want to see the government supporting this initiative for people that are South African. Let us check thoroughly who is who and from where, [and] is this person staying here legally?
“There is illicit trade in items that come from places that you don’t even know. These fruit juices and drinks you find … they make our people sick because they were not tested,” she said.
Khumalo was speaking at the association’s 17th anniversary event at Johannesburg City Hall on Wednesday where she told members that illicit traders were robbing the economy because they traded smuggled items, which were not taxed.
“The high rate of illicit trade undermines the investments that legal manufacturing companies make in shebeens, spaza shops and informal establishments. This is ultimately very bad for business in the township,” she said.
The director responsible for informal trade at the department of small business development, Vukile Nkabinde, told The Citizen the department was considering the association’s request for assistance in building warehouses for retail goods owned by South Africans.