2009-11-14 18:39:30 – Voice of the Cape
The Mitchell’s Plain Concerned Hawkers and Traders Association (CHATA) claims City of Cape Town officials are still victimizing informal traders in the Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre, despite a decision by Mayor Dan Plato to call off the eviction operation. Informal traders and hawkers at the Town Centre were up in arms last month after they were issued letters by the City, ordering them to remove their trading structures by the 1st November. In the letters, they were also informed to collect their new permits for relocation to another trading square.
According to CHATA spokesperson Mishka Cassiem, the body’s members are pleased with Mayor Plato’s decision to halt the evictions in the complex. However, a day after the announcement, a city official appointed to work in Mitchell’s Plain evicted a CHATA member. Another member was evicted a few days later, she alleged. Cassiem said it was clear city officials were undermining the Mayor’s decision.
“We have the incidents on camera, where one of our members found someone else trading on her bay. After engaging with the city official, we managed to put our members back in their trading bays. It was hard work but with tolerance and calmness, we were able to bring stability in the Town Centre amidst the commotion,” she reported.
The City has called all hawkers and traders to a workshop at Portlands Community Hall on Wednesday 18th November in order to gain more clarity on the process of relocation. The Mayor and Mayoral Committee member Felicity Purchase will be in attendance. However, Cassiem expressed concern that the workshop will not be able to “iron out all the grievances” put forward by traders.
“The Mayor said it will be a grievance meeting to sort out all the differences between the various organizations of traders. However, the invitation states it is a relocation workshop, showing that the City is going ahead with its plans for traders to move,” she said. She added: “Despite this, we will attend and raise our concerns. We are busy compiling all our objections and will present them to the Mayoral Committee as well as the Mayor.”
Cassiem said the flea market remains a primary source of income for over 1000 traders who are now uncertain about their future. Hawkers believe the new trading complex may not have enough business potential and will be distanced from the bustling passing trade. In 2004 the City granted hawkers permission to trade in Symphony Lane, however they have now indicated a need for space to accommodate a fire engine in the mall, which some traders are acceding to.
“About ten to fifteen traders have moved to the new market voluntarily. A few traders have cooperated by moving into the new space away from all the shoppers so that the passing fire engines can come through. So there is this willing to cooperate,” she related.
“However, in comparison to where we were, there will be little feet. At the new market, we are only exposed to the customers at the taxi rank and when people come from the shops and walk past the traders, they will be too tired to stop at our traders,” said, adding that disgruntled traders believe the new market will be over congested and it will not be attractive to shoppers.
The organization has planned a picket at the Mayor’s office on 24 November and is calling all members to attend. For more information, contact Mishcka on 073 128 6657. VOC (Tasneem Mohamed)