Municipality responds to complaints by city vendors

2018-02-14 06:01
PHOTO: fileStreet vendors selling outside the taxi rank on Langalibalele Street complain about being harassed by municipality security personnel.

PHOTO: fileStreet vendors selling outside the taxi rank on Langalibalele Street complain about being harassed by municipality security personnel.

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THE Echo published a story last week (Street vendors fed up with guards, February 1) in which street sellers at the exit of the taxi rank on Langalibalele Street expressed their anger and frustration over being harassed regularly by the Msunduzi Municipality security personnel.

The street vendors who spoke to the Echo said the alleged harassment is meted out because sellers of certain goods are not permitted to operate in that area, or are only allowed to sell at specified times.

However, some of the street vendors said the harassment occurs even when they are selling during the permitted hour. Others complained that the harassment is sometimes violent, and the subsequent confiscation of their wares if they are found to be operating without a permit or outside the authorised hour, is detrimental to their businesses and affects their livelihood.

At the time of going to press last week, Msunduzi Municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha had not responded to a media inquiry made by the Echo.

However, when she did respond she said: “The municipal security personnel are charged with the responsibility of enforcing municipal bylaws.”

This, she said, has to be done around the clock in all areas prohibited to street vendors or illegal traders.

“The municipal licensing unit is charged with the responsibility to issue permits or have them cancelled in and around the city. Security personnel only deal with those who sell in areas that are not allowed to vendors or illegal traders, as designated by the municipal licensing unit,” she added.

She said security’s role is to enforce the law and ensure that municipal bylaws are adhered to and that the security do not issue or nullify permits.

With regards to the complaint made by the street vendors; that the security personnel sometimes harass them even during the hour they are permitted to operate, Mafumbatha said law enforcement is applicable around the clock.

She said security is not above the law and that when they carry out their duties through violence, the guilty should face internal disciplinary action.

“Such complaints are to be formally reported to the department,” she said.

Mafumbatha said the municipal licensing unit, which falls under the Sustainable Development section, is responsible for issuing permits to sell goods allowed to be sold in the city.

“The municipality charges a fine for illegal trading in those areas deemed to be off bounds for selling, and the goods confiscated during the process are stored at a municipal security base at 21 Washington Road and they get collected by the owners on a time-to- time bases and every time security personnel do the confiscation the owner is made aware of the procedures to follow afterwards,” she said.

In early November last year, the city’s mayor, Themba Njilo, led a contingent of the municipality’s staff doing a clean-up campaign, which also inspected whether some street vendors were in possession of permits to operate within the CBD. Street vendors without permits were instructed to pack up their stalls and apply immediately for a permit.

Responding to a question whether the municipality had achieved the objectives laid out in the municipality’s clean-up campaign, Mafumbatha said: “Objectives set out in the municipality clean-up campaign were a multidepartmental initiative, with municipal security giving support to units that require security during their operations should they feel threatened.”

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