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Friday Nov 08, 2013

Rampant trading permit fraud forced Joburg to act

As the suspension of hawking in Joburg's inner city enters its 39th day, the City of Joburg has revealed that it has been forced to embark on a verification of trading permits because only 800 valid ones have been issued, yet there are 8 000 people hawking on the streets.

Over and above that, 2 500 permits have been found on traders, indicating there has been some level of fraud.

Thousands of traders were displaced last month in the city's Operation Clean Sweep when it was discovered that only 800 permits had been legally issued, yet there were 2 500 'official' permits in possession of traders, and that the rest of the 8 000 were trading illegally.

The operation is designed to clean up the inner city not only of illegal trading but illegal dumping and littering, land and building invasions, and other by-law contraventions, as well as the illegal connection of infrastructure, including electricity theft.

However, some traders have expressed outrage, claiming they have lost their livelihood by not being able to trade for the last few weeks.

Cosatu has entered the fray, saying it is disturbing that there were 'thousands of vulnerable people without income'.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said: 'This situation is intolerable, particularly in view of the fact that at the time of these mass forced removals no alternative plan was in place.' The verification process is 'massively, painfully and intolerably slow, causing mass, unabated human suffering'.

Cosatu urged the city to formulate concrete plans to expedite the process of reregistration and to formulate, in consultation with the legitimate stakeholders, developmental management models.

Edmund Elias, spokesman for the SA National Traders Association, said the street trader verification process was continuing slowly, with displaced traders standing around all day, in the hot sun, at the Metro Centre in the hope of being called.

'The majority return home without being called. To suddenly deprive 8 000 breadwinners of a living is a very brutal, inhumane and illegal act,' he said.

He said the fact that public complaints concerning grime, obstruction and crime were given as the primary reason for the mayoral clean-up, was of concern.
'That argument needs maximum public scrutiny. We believe opposition is far less than the council makes out,' he said.

Thabo Rangwaga, spokesman for the City of Joburg's member of the mayoral committee responsible for development planning and urban management, Ros Greeff, said the verification process was being done in terms of the new trading review process.

'Councillor Greeff embarked on this programme to implement sustainable solutions for the unique challenges faced in this region,' he said.

The City of Joburg embraces the relevance and contribution of informal trading to the economic and social life of the city, he said.

This provides positive spinoffs for the unemployed and also represents an alternative to the established traditional formal sector retail.

The city, he said, aims to develop this sector into a commercially viable one which will, in turn, contribute to the economic growth of the city and the quality of life of its citizens in a sustainable manner, with appropriate infrastructure support and services, entrepreneurial development, spatial planning and effective regulation.

The Star


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