Mercury: Traders evicted from market (for 2010)

Site earmarked for developments linked to 2010 World Cup
Traders evicted from market

October 08, 2007 Edition 2


Hundreds of informal traders have found themselves on the street and without a place to trade after being evicted from a Durban informal market yesterday.

The council-owned land on which the Soldiers Way Cabin Market has operated for more than 10 years has been earmarked for a hotel as part of the eThekwini Municipality’s planned developments for the 2010 soccer World Cup.

About 1 200 traders arrived at 2am yesterday to find Metro Police guarding the entrance to the market.

Some of the traders were forced to squeeze into a space for only about 100 traders, leaving most camped on the pavement outside with their goods.

Ntombiyenkosi Mazibuko, who has been trading in the market for more than six years, said the traders were being victimised for trying to earn an honest living.

“We are out on the street now and again we will be arrested and have our stock confiscated for making an honest living. This democracy of ours is a joke. When we ask for permits we don’t get them and now the government is taking away what little we have to feed our children,” she said.

Another trader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “We pay R50 every Sunday to trade here. The city must not do this to us because we are low income traders. People from around the country come here every Sunday to buy our goods. We also contribute to the economy of the city,” she said.

The market operator, Global Village, received an eviction notice last month and last Sunday was the last day it could legally trade there.

Global Village’s Durban General Manager, Diven Pather, said Global Village would defy the eviction until the city found alternative land for it.

According to Pather, municipal officials said the city could not help the traders.

“The city is quite comfortable with evicting 1 200 low income traders, who depend on the money they make here to survive, regardless of the socio-economic impact this will have on the city,” he said.

eThekwini Municipal Manager Michael Sutcliffe said the site had always been earmarked for major development: government offices, retail and commercial establishments. In the short term it would be used for parking at the Durban International Convention Centre.

Sutcliffe said eThekwini was one of few municipalities in the world with a clear policy promoting informal trading.

Global Village claims that the city was reneging on that policy were nothing short of “scandalous”. “The city has not issued any notice to evict any traders on the Centrum site.

What has happened is that the city has terminated the short-term tenancy agreements entered into between the city and a private company, First Park Ltd. First Park entered into an agreement with Global Village, which as well may not be legal and it has nothing to do with the city directly,” he said.

Sutcliffe said some traders reported they were paying R200 a month to Global Village to trade every Sunday, while the city charged traders R39 a month, or R69 if they had stands.

“I will be reviewing all operations by Global Village in our city to ensure that we don’t let them benefit through the exploitation of impoverished people,” he said.

Sutcliffe had asked his Acting Head of Business Support, Phillip Sithole, to meet representatives of the traders, not Global Village, to assist them with opportunities to continue trading.