Court postpones Jhb hawker application

The High Court has postponed a bid to stop city officials removing informal traders.

The South African National Traders Retail Alliance took the city to court in a bid to stop officials from demolishing stalls as part of a clean-up operation. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The South Gauteng High Court has postponed an urgent application to stop the City of Johannesburg from removing informal traders from the streets while the parties try to find an interim solution.

The South African National Traders Retail Alliance (Santra) took the city to court in a bid to stop officials from demolishing stalls as part of a clean-up operation.

The City of Johannesburg was in talks with the association until late on Monday night in order to find an interim solution to the problem.

But a Santra representative says a solution cannot only benefit some traders.

"They've put a proposal to us that we're not entirely happy with. As a result we counter-proposed."

Earlier more than 100 informal traders protested outside court, holding up placards asking the mayor to hear their plight.

The matter will be heard in court again next week.

Traders who were removed from the streets will now return to work by the end of the week.

"We'd like to start with the people that were removed first so we are going to be reallocating legal traders that have been verified by the end of the week," said the city's Roselyn Greef.

"Secondly, we've identified other trading areas in prime places where there's foot traffic but in side streets which we are going to close off. They are going to be well organised so that we have a very nice environment in place."

Greef said they have managed to register over 2,000 traders.

"It was a fairly difficult process. We had people at the metro centre on daily basis for a couple of weeks. We feel that there will be more later on but in terms of legitimate traders that really needed to get their smartcards back, we feel that we've done our work."

However, Santra argued the process was too slow and prevented poor people from earning an income.

Santra spokesperson Edmund Elias said, "The city promised us on 4 November that traders would go back once they've been verified and today it's 19 November and not a single trader is back. Our view is that there's a hidden agenda here. We believe that the city doesn't want to put people back on the streets."