A war is brewing between traders in Mitchells Plain.
Licensed informal traders held a protest at Town Centre Mall yesterday, accusing “pirate” brokers of stealing their livelihood by not applying and paying for permits.
The protestors say they pay R89 a month for the right to trade at Town Centre, but their businesses are being undercut by “hundreds of pirates” who illegally sell their goods and for cheaper.
The group, some who have been trading for over 30 years in Town Centre, has called on the City of Cape Town to remove the illegal traders as their businesses are suffering.
They also want the law to clamp down on drug dealers who run “thriving businesses” in Town Centre.
About 100 traders marched to City Law Enforcement offices in Beacon Valley, holding up placards reading: “No to pirate traders” and “Gone with the pirates and merchants”.
They also marched to Symphony Walk at the mall where they traded seven years ago before they were moved by the City to a new section with kiosks, for which they needed permits.
Jasmine Harris, the Vice-chairperson of the Policing Forum for the Mitchells Plain CBD says law enforcement officials tore down their stalls in 2009, destroying their merchandise when they traded illegally in Symphony Walk.
Symphony Walk is now home to close to 1 000 illegal traders.
Kulsum Baker, the chairperson of the United Hawkers Forum, who has been trading for 34 years, walked with a loud hailer, calling on pirate traders to leave: “The problem is Symphony Walk is now being run by pirate traders and merchants.
“The area where our stands are has become a ghost town with no customers and some trades are in arrears with their rent because they do not make money.”
Kulsum told pirate traders like Nawaal Solomons, 32, who sells fruit and vegetables, to pack up her stall.
“Go and make a living legally and get a permit because we were put out of this lane,” Kulsum told her.
But Nawaal refused to budge, saying she had five children to support: “I will not leave until the police remove me.”
City of Cape Town spokeswoman Priya Reddy said: “The City of Cape Town takes the concerns of the traders seriously and we are looking into this matter.”