On Saturday, 24 April 2010, one of CHATA’s members was arrested from the Town Centre market and her goods were confiscated. The city of Cape Town did not issue a confiscation or eviction notice prior to the arrest. Additionally she was trading on land owned by a private owner giving the city no legal ground for the confiscation of her goods. There needs to be more pressure put on the City of Cape Town and the government of South Africa for the mass actions being taken throughout the country against informal traders. Goods are being stolen every day and the government is defending this act by claiming they have the right to confiscate what they do not feel is being sold in the right manner. Legal action needs to take place against these acts.
Additionally, CHATA is responding to a newsletter that has been circulated by The Mitchells Plain Town Centre Merchants Association, discrediting CHATA in its fight for the poor. The chairperson for the MPTCMA is Dr. MC Roomaney, telephone number: 021 392 8130.
CHATA, in particular, is responding to targeted attacks and claims in the newsletter. The MPTCMA stated that “…we exposed these people for the selfish, greedy and obstructionist opportunists they are” in the workshop with the mayor help on 18 November 2009.
Mischka Cassiem, a representative from CHATA, attended the workshop and has responded that:
(1) The Mayor was only there for 10 minutes.
(2) CHATA highlighted in the workshop that there has been a motion of “no confidence” put into this body on 8 May 2008 that has not been recognized or further investigated with sufficient action.
(3) CHATA also raised the fact that the Umbrella Body has to be mindful about the decision to continue with the renovation and relocation process because the Traders’ livelihoods depend on it. There must be an acknowledgement that from the process taking place many people will not have jobs and income – a critical issue that should have been resolved in some fashion.
The newsletter notes that CHATA and its concerns are only from a few traders. If CHATA is the minority, then why is the fight of CHATA being mentioned in the MPTCMA newsletter? CHATA has been able to call attention to valid claims against the renovation process. These claims have been constructive and have not been full of “malicious lies.” The MPTCMA has noted in their newsletter that “Recently, a new informal traders association, CHATA was formed. Up till now, their primary aim was to sabotage the decision made by the Steering Committee. They have not made one constructive suggestion that would have moved the process forward.” CHATA would like to respond with the following:
(1) CHATA is not a recently formed association of traders and hawkers. CHATA has had membership and has been a constructive association for about two and a half years working to uphold standards of transparency in the daily decision making process of the Town Centre.
(2) CHATA has made a number of constructive suggestions throughout the entire renovation process. They have consulted with members of other Traders associations, city officials and market officials in an attempt to move the process forward in a way that is fair and transparent for all Traders in the Town Centre. Their primary concern has been the livelihoods that would be and have been lost as a result of the process, leaving people without any ability to make an income to feed their families.
(3) CHATA’s primary aim has not been one of sabotage. Why has the MPTCMA targeted and attacked CHATA so directly in this newsletter after falsefully criticizing CHATA for the same thing?
Dr. Roomaney is also serving on the Steering Committee, and wants the lease of the Town Centre together with Mr. K Brinkhuis, the chair of the Umbrella Body. Both of these men are formal business people, and thus are contradicting the city by-laws. The motivation of their alliance must be questioned as they are working together to own the land and become primary stakeholders in the acquisition of the Town Centre Mall. It has now become evident to CHATA who the real culprits are for the eviction of the traders.
The newsletter also states that traders moved into their new bays on 8 March 2010. This is a blatant lie. Goods were confiscated on this day and structures were broken down, traders did not relocate only evictions took place. There are a number of lies in this newsletter that must be acknowledged before any further steps in the development in the Town Centre are done. Rather than continuing the exposure of specific associations of Traders that are working for the rights of people affected by the March 8th eviction, the MPTCMA should be working to unify traders in a time of struggle. The tactics of the government to divide and rule the people should not also be practiced by an association that claims to bridge the gap between informal and formal business in Mitchells Plain.
This newsletter attack and criticism will, however, not break the spirit of CHATA, the fight continues. CHATA members have continued since the eviction to be present in the Town Centre as a means of protest. CHATA has also visited the offices of Councilor Natalie Bent on 12 April 2010 and 15 April 2010 regarding the corruption in the process. Council Bent responded by saying that she will take the issue to the Mayor. CHATA will continue to fight for the rights that are deserved by all Traders working to sustain their livelihoods, but who have been marginalised in the process.
For more information, please contact Mischka Cassiem at 0745257336