Tshwane mayor stands up vendors

2012-06-05 19:09
Vendor's products. (File)

Vendor's products. (File)

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Pretoria - Hundreds of informal traders who gathered in Pretoria central on Tuesday were disappointed to learn that Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa would not receive a memorandum of their demands.

The traders planned to ask Ramokgopa to intervene as they claim the city's metro police harass them while they sell their wares.

Tshwane Informal Traders Forum secretary Elliot Nkadimeng said the vendors were infuriated that the municipality had turned down their application to march in the city at short notice.

“We are seeking a platform to engage and communicate with the municipality but they are turning us down.

"All we asked for was to march peacefully and hand over a memorandum,” he said.

The traders had been assured by a city official on Monday that Ramokgopa would meet them on Tuesday to receive their memorandum.

On Monday, mayoral spokesperson Pieter de Necker said he did not know about any scheduled meeting between the vendors and the mayor.

He said the meeting was unlikely as Ramokgopa had “other engagements” in Cape Town on Tuesday.

'Horrendous'

Nkadimeng said the traders, who braved the cold weather, gathered at the corner of Schubart (renamed Sophie de Bruyn) and Proes streets instead of embarking on the planned march.

The vendors had “horrendous experiences to tell” of what they had suffered at the hands of the Tshwane metro police and other officials.

A single mother, Bukeka Gumede, said city officials recently told her to “go back to the Eastern Cape” when she sought recourse over her damaged wares.

This was after her goods, worth around R60 000, were damaged by water in 2010, which she said was the municipality’s responsibility.

"My problems started as far as 2010 and haven’t been resolved until now.

"The municipality’s officials are arrogant when dealing with us, I do not know why," she said.

Since then she said she had been struggling to survive and care for her family.

On Tuesday Gumede carried a placard bearing the words: "City of Tshwane stop abusing women and mothers. We are suffering."

Other placards displayed were: “We have been vendors since you were in school, Mr Mayor”, “Ramokgopa you are betraying us” and “Tired of paying bribes to metro cops”.

Several members of the Tshwane metro police watched the protesters from their cars.

Shoes Maloka said he was deeply irritated because the metro police confiscated his perishable products and threw them away as he could not afford the money to pay a fine.

"It’s so painful, my brother, to see your products being thrown away. We want to make an honest living by selling our stuff in the city centre but they won't let us.”

Bribes

Another protester, Joshua Mofoho of Hammanskraal, said he had been released from prison and had no other way to care for his three children besides selling on the streets.

“How do I take care of my children if I do not sell my products? I am on parole and I should make a living through working hard for myself and my kids,” he said.

Other protesters accused the metro police of demanding bribes to let them sell on the streets of the capital city.

“My products were confiscated by the police and only returned afterwards when I paid a bribe of R300,” said John Olumale.

A number of evicted former residents of the Schubart Park flats also joined in the protest on Tuesday.

The vendors have threatened to take the matter to court if their grievances are not urgently addressed.

- SAPA

Read more on:    kgosientso ramokgopa  |  protests
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