Debi Market traders cry foul

2008-08-18 00:00

A man who used to supply traders with their produce at the Debi Market has opened a new business that undercuts them and they have responded by reporting him to the authorities for violating by-laws.

Traders at the Debi Market in Northdale have questioned the legitimacy of a trader who conducts his fruit and vegetable business in a house adjacent to the market that is not properly zoned for business.

Market traders told The Witness that besides affecting their profits, the Garden Fresh Produce business in Bangalore Road is not abiding by the Msunduzi Municipality’s by-laws.

They accuse the municipality of dragging its feet in serving the owner with a notice after he was found not to have a proper waste management facility and because his business is causing traffic gridlocks.

The Witness understands that the municipality was alerted to the matter and that ward councillor Manilal Inderjit ordered a survey to be conducted.

An official, whose name is known to The Witness, was tasked to serve the owner with the notice to close his business, but stalled.

The traders and concerned residents suspect that the official was getting kickbacks from the owner and said his official car has been seen parked at the premises at weekends.

Debi Market secretary Julie Chetty said a petition has been drafted to be handed to the municipal manager demanding that if the business is trading illegally it must be shut down.

One of the traders, who asked not to be named, said Garden Fresh Produce is taking business away from them.

“The owner was selling to us before, but now he has decided to start his own business and that is affecting our profits because he sells cheaply and he does so from his house, which is not permitted in terms of council’s by-laws.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen to us if the business is allowed to operate in spite of the fact that he is in contravention of the by-laws,” she said.

Msunduzi spokeswoman Evodia Mahlangu confirmed that a notice was served on the owner on August 1 to cease the operation before August 21.

“If he fails to do so, a dossier will be prepared and sent to the municipality’s legal division for prosecution,” said Mahlangu.

Speaking on behalf of the owner, Bolton Naidoo, his lawyer, Sergie Brimiah, said the owner has already put measures in place to comply with the by-laws.

He said for the market traders to complain about one business is unfair as there are many others who are not zoned for business on the same street.

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