Mitchell’s Plain – After participating in the Western Cape Anti-Eviction Campaign’s recent General Meeting and marching in the 24 July March against Housing Privatization, the Mitchell’s Plain Concerned Hawkers and Traders is set to join the AEC. Like the Gatesville Hawkers and the informal traders of Gugulethu, the traders of the Mitchell’s Plain Town Centre face forced removal by city officials and well-connected business people, a conflict that once again pits the nation’s first economy against the informal sector.
The struggle that gave rise to this new organization began on 13 March 2008, when SAPS and Metro Police, backed by the Army and the Dog Unit, raided this bustling town centre on the Cape Flats, cracking down, not on criminal activity, but the dozens of men and women who make their living selling everything from fruits and vegetables to cigarettes and children’s clothes. Without warning, police began breaking down hawkers’ stalls and removing goods.
“I questioned Inspector Joubert, asking him why is this thing be done,” explained Mieshka Cassiem of Lenteguer. “He said that they were ordered by their director to clean up the stands and clear them out.” It was only by resisting these evictions that the hawkers were able to prevent their relocation from the sides of the Town Centre’s busy passage ways to an isolated area on its outskirts.
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