Raisethorpe hawkers complain of constant harassment

2019-03-14 14:35
Informal traders Yacoob Ibraham (left) and Rajen Ganesh in Dr Chota Motala Road, Northdale, on Wednesday.

Informal traders Yacoob Ibraham (left) and Rajen Ganesh in Dr Chota Motala Road, Northdale, on Wednesday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Street vendors in Raisethorpe are at loggerheads with the local business association.

The traders claim that the Raisethorpe­ Business Association hired private security guards to forcefully remove them from their stands as a response to the challenges of filth and criminal activity in the area.

But this was denied by Pramchand Sreechand, chairperson of the Raisethorpe Business Association.

Sreechand told The Witness on Wednesday that they were not against hawkers operating in the area.

He said the business owners only want the municipality to demarcate an area where the hawkers can operate.

He also vehemently denied that the members of the business association have hired a private security company to remove the street traders.

“It’s a lie,” he said.

“We have hired the private security company to guard our buildings, not to interfere with the informal traders,” said Sreechand.

He said the problem was that the informal traders were using parking bays, which in turn blocks access for their customers.

“The traffic department also said that the informal traders cannot trade in the parking lot. The parking lot is for use for parking and some of the informal traders are coming there and parking for a whole day. They are not supposed to be operating there.”

Sreechand said they were encouraging informal traders to continue trading in Raisethorpe, but in a designated area.

“If you have 20 informal traders in one parking lot, then the customers cannot park in Raisethorpe,” he said.

Selvie Govender (63), who has been selling pickles and biryani in the area for 23 years, told The Witness that the private security guards have been harassing her for the past two weeks.

“They take my things and throw them on the floor. I only use one parking bay, but they are against me. Last Friday I was actually crying. If I didn’t need this money, I wouldn’t come here every day,” Govender said.

“I am making an honest living. I only collect my pension and I need the money I make here to take care of my family,” she said.

Traders told The Witness that private security guards unexpectedly arrived at their trading area every day, demanding that they pack their belongings and vacate the area.

Another trader, Zanele Ngcobo, complained that she had had enough of the ongoing harassment meted against them.

Mohammed Moosa, a business owner in the area, said he was against the removal of informal traders.

“We get on well with the informal traders and we are against what the association is doing,” he said.

“Informal trading gives this place its identity. People don’t want to go to malls. The more informal traders you have here, the more people you are going to attract.”

Moosa said the association did not represent the majority of business owners in the area.

“Who is this association?” he asked.

“We get along well with the hawkers. We were not informed that private security guards would be dispatched in the area. We won’t be party to anyone being harassed. You can’t take away people’s livelihood.”

Venolin Govender, ward 31 committee member, said they were working together with the municipality to demarcate a facility for informal trading.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  street vendors
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