Foreign barbers given the boot

2008-04-29 00:00

PLANS are afoot to evict barbers who are allegedly trading illegally at the Freedom Square, as part of moves to revamp the precinct.

The barbers, most of them Congolese, have complained that the municipality confiscated their trading licences and they have been threatened with forced removal ever since.

On Saturday, the foreign barbers received notices from the municipality informing them that they are working at the square illegally. They were also warned that security guards will soon be dispatched to force them out of business.

Now the foreigners are accusing the municipality of taking away their only means of earning an income, which helps to support their families in the city and back home. “Here is my [Home Affairs] document proving that I have refugee status in South Africa. The South African government does not support us financially, and we work hard to avoid being involved in crime, yet they are taking our jobs away,” said Tabiya Lukuhula.

Lukuhula said his licence to operate at Freedom Square was taken away from him in 2004. He said he was told that it was going to be renewed, but that is yet to happen.

“In that year they sent security guards to remove us after taking our operating licences. One Congolese guy was arrested after leading a protest against the removal. We were beaten up by the [security guards].

“After three days they called us to continue to operate, and promised to issue us with new licenses. We went to the municipality to pay our R50 monthly rent, but we were told to wait. Even today we are waiting, and we are scared that the rent has accumulated in such a way that we can no longer afford to pay the outstanding,” said Lukuhula.

There are about 30 barbers working at the square, including two South Africans, who are apparently not happy to compete with foreigners for clients. “They [local barbers] don’t talk to us. They always call us amakwerekwere [a pejorative and demeaning term for ‘foreigner’],” said another Congolese barber.

The revamp of the square is another threat facing the Congolese businesses. They have been informed that all vendors will soon be removed and only six barbers will be allowed inside the new minibus taxi rank. “They said that only Zulus [South Africans] will occupy those salons,” said Yungus Masumbuku.

Attempts on Sunday and yesterday to get comment from Zwe Hulane, strategic executive manager for community services, were unsuccessful.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.