Traders told their plight is not urgent

SERI Press Release

The South Gauteng High Court today struck off the roll an urgent application brought by the South African National Traders’ Retail Alliance (SANTRA) and the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) to allow informal traders back to work pending a decision about the lawfulness of the City of Johannesburg’s decision to implement Operation Clean Sweep by removing traders and not permitting them to return after they complied with a verification and re-registration process.

In an order handed down by Judge Ramarumo Monamo, the court agreed to the consolidation of SANTRA and SAITF’s applications and struck the matter off the roll for lack of urgency. The Judge also ordered each party to pay their own costs. No reasons for his decision were given.

SERI, who represents SAITF and over 1 200 traders, is deeply disappointed with today’s order. The order sends the message that the dire socio-economic conditions of our clients, brought about by the City of Johannesburg’s unlawful actions, are not urgent.

Many people are living off savings that are fast running out, are struggling to pay rent and services and to put food on the table. For example, one of the applicants, Ms Ngqwala, used to sell handbags and clothing in Block 7, and has been trading since 1993. She has 16 dependents who rely on her income. This income has disappeared overnight. Another applicant, Ms Sithole, sold vegetables in Block 13 until she was removed by the JMPD. Now she is unable to afford transport to take her children to school, so they have stopped attending. She also faces eviction as she is unable to pay her rent. Mr Sekhwela traded in Block 10 until he was removed as part of Operation Clean Sweep. He is now struggling to take care of his sick elderly mother.

According to Nomzamo Zondo, SERI attorney for the traders: “Our clients are devastated. They cannot believe that the court has decided to standby while the City tramples on their rights and acts with complete disregard for the law. They want to know why their children must starve and face eviction because the City has failed to manage informal trading in the inner city.”

The two trader associations are meeting this evening to discuss a way forward, and are considering their legal options.

Read the order here: http://www.seri-sa.org/images/SAIITF_SANTRA_order_27Nov13.pdf

Read more on the case here: http://www.seri-sa.org/index.php/19-litigation/case-entries/206-south-african-informal-traders-forum-and-others-v-city-of-johannesburg-and-others-saitf

Contact:

Nomzamo Zondo, attorney at SERI: nomzamo@seri-sa.org / 071 638 6304
Title of Resource: Traders told their plight is not urgent

URGENT APPLICATION BY SANTRA AGAINST CITY OF JOHANNESBURG AND JMPD TO BE HEARD TOMORROW

26 November 2013

URGENT APPLICATION BY SANTRA AGAINST CITY OF JOHANNESBURG AND JMPD TO BE HEARD TOMORROW

1.       On Friday, 15 November 2014, the South African National Traders Association (“SANTRA”) issued, through its attorneys, Routledge Modise, an urgent application against the City of Johannesburg and the JMPD.

2.       The Urgent application has been opposed by the City of Johannesburg.

3.       By agreement between the parties, the urgent application was postponed to Tuesday, 26 November 2013 in order for the City to file an answering affidavit and for negotiations to ensue.

4.       Regrettably no resolution has been resolved by way of negotiation and on Saturday, 23 November 2013 the City filed its answering affidavit.

5.       The City’s answering affidavit did not respond to the substantive allegations made by the Informal Traders rather focusing on the urgency of the matter. The City in its papers has said that the matter is not urgent and should be dealt with on the normal court roll during the course of next year.

6.       SANTRA has filed a replying affidavit reasserting the urgency of the matter.

7.       The Urgent application will be heard at 10h00 on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 in the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg. SANTRA will be looking for an Order in terms of which

7.1.    The City is interdicted from demolishing any further stalls.

7.2.    The City is compelled to allow informal traders who are lawfully entitled to trade:

(a)            to return to the areas previously allocated to them and from which they were removed; and

(b)           to continue trading in those areas.

7.3.    in respect of those traders whose stalls were demolished: the City is compelled to reinstate those stalls, or in the alternative, to allow those traders to return to the sites where the stalls were previously, and to continue trading on those sites; and

7.4.    pending the determination the review proceedings which are launched togetherr with the interdict, the City, through JMPD or otherwise is interdicted, from unlawfully interfering with the traders restored to trading in terms of paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 above.

7.5.    The City is compelled to give reasons (which the City has refused to do) for its decisions:

7.5.1. to relocate informal traders to an unknown destination in an unspecified time-period; and

7.5.2. to prohibit or restrict trading in areas in the CBD which are currently demarcated for informal trading.

Yours faithfully

Michal Johnson

Pro Bono Attorney

Routledge Modise Inc.

Tel (27 11) 286 6900
Fax 086 674 6241

Direct (27 11) 523-6128

Email michalj@rmlaw.co.za

URGENT APPLICATION BROUGHT BY SANTRA AGAINST CITY OF JOHANNESBURG AND JMPD

URGENT APPLICATION BROUGHT BY SANTRA AGAINST CITY OF JOHANNESBURG AND JMPD

1. On Friday, 15 November 2014, the South African National Traders Association (“SANTRA”) issued, through its attorneys, Routledge Modise, an urgent application against the City of Johannesburg and the JMPD.

2. The urgent application is a result of the displacement of the Informal Traders within the City of Johannesburg.

3. The relief sought in the urgent application is two-part. The relief that is sought urgently and immediately is to:

3.1. interdict the City from demolishing any further stalls;

3.2. compel the City to allow informal traders who are lawfully entitled to trade: (a) to return to the areas previously allocated to them and from which they were removed; and (b) to continue trading in those areas.

3.3. in respect of those traders whose stalls were demolished: to compel City to reinstate those stalls, or in the alternative, to allow those traders to return to the sites where the stalls were previously, and to continue trading on those sites; and

3.4. pending the determination the review proceedings which are launched together with the interdict, to interdict City, through JMPD or otherwise, from unlawfully interfering with the traders restored to trading in terms of paragraphs 3.2 and 3.3 above.

3.5. Compel the City to give reasons (which the City has refused to do) for its decisions: (a) to relocate informal traders to an unknown destination in an unspecified time-period; and (b) to prohibit or restrict trading in areas in the CBD which are currently demarcated for informal trading.

4. A review has been launched together with the interim interdict. In it (and after the City has provided the reasons referred to in paragraph 3.5 above), SANTRA seeks to review the following decisions taken by the City:

4.1. to demolish existing stalls erected by the City for the use of informal traders and which have been leased by SANTRA’s members for that purpose;

4.2. to relocate informal traders from the Joburg CBD; and

4.3. to declare certain areas in the CBD restricted or prohibited for the purposes of informal trading.

5. The Urgent application has been opposed by the City of Johannesburg.

6. The Urgent application will be heard at 10h00 on Tuesday, 19 November 2013 in the High Court of South Africa, Gauteng Local Division, Johannesburg.

Jo’burg’s ‘Clean Sweep’: The city responds

01 NOV 2013 by NIREN TOLSI

“The Mail & Guardian is in possession of two city reports. Firstly, the report on the status of the inner city and proposed initiative and programme to address current challenges from the office of member of the mayoral committee (MMC) Greeff (dated October 10 2012) and secondly, the development planning report for the mayoral lekgotla (dated October 26 2012).

1. These plans were discussed and agreed upon almost a year ago, yet when the operation was effected at the beginning of October there appeared to be no follow-up plan to coincide with the initial removal of persons from the streets. Based on M&G street inspections of the inner city, neither simultaneous maintenance on roads and pavements or actual clean-up of rubbish has occurred in the precinct around Park Station and Kerk Street and in other areas where traders were removed. As of October 30, the City was unable to provide traders with their “short-term plan” as agreed upon. Why did the city start clearing out people with no follow-up plan? The issue of orderly and sustainable development was key in the approach in relationship to the informal trading challenge.
During the time that the above report was written it was done on the premise that the hawkers in question were legal. However, upon investigation into the structurally under-capacitated environment in which trading takes place; the City uncovered issues of concern with regards to how trading conducts itself in the limited trading space that is provided in a particular block.

Only 800 spaces are legally demarcated but 2 500 smart cards were calculated to be in the informal traders’ possession while allegations of duplicated smart cards were noted. This was against the reality that, alarmingly, 8 000 traders were identified to be active in this very same space.

This startling discovery not only necessitated an immediate audit into legitimacy of smart cards and legality of all informal traders active but an initiation of discussions with the “legal” traders in an aim to collectively resolve the above matter.

The City remains pro-poor and developmental in nature while true to its vision of an engaged citizenry underscored by collective effort (together with all affected stakeholders) in addressing challenges we all face. This is the foundation upon which we as the City continue to build a better future for our communities and stakeholders. This includes the hawkers’ community as well as the informal trading sector.

2. Why is the city still only completing its short-term plan when “the mayoral clean sweep” was envisaged and discussed at the mayoral lekgotla a year ago?
The item did not necessarily have to serve at the lekgotla. It was a programme developed as a sustainable solution that seek to take into account and address the various challenges (each at a time) that contribute to urban decay. The short term plan is as a result of consequences arising from investigation into the illegal trading mayhem which affects the legal traders in the City.

Short term measures are therefore needed in order to alleviate the loss of economic activity having to be undertaken by the legal traders while taking into consideration the infrastructure and facility needs that would have to be fulfilled in order for informal trading to take place in a regulated, safe, secure and developmental manner.

3. Please can the city furnish the M&G with the “monitoring and systems” plan required of each department involved in this operation as per lekgotla report?
Upon consultation with the relevant departments that form the clean sweep multidisciplinary team; we can engage accordingly in this regard.

4. Please provide us with each involved stakeholder/ department’s “programme of action” as per the lekgotla report?

Kindly refer to answer to question 3.

5. The report notes that the programme of action will have “emphasis on the short-term” plan of the operation, but one has not been finalised as yet and made available to stakeholders outside the city (trader organisations, civil society organisations and the general public). Please explain.
The emphasis at the time of drafting the report was placed more on internal actions to be undertaken rather than external engagements.

External stakeholders engagement was envisaged to be in line with a communication plan proposed for approval and auctioning in this regard. Research, development underscored by continuous positive and productive engagement with stakeholders as per the GDS 2040 of the City; forms a part of this internal report at this stage.

6. The report talks of city officials who find “their hands tied by inappropriate legislation which at times fails to take into account the day-to-day realities of what officials do and what they need in order to discharge their responsibility effectively”.
Please explain which legislation is “inappropriate” and how these directly impact on the work of city officials. For an example if an official serves a notice to stop an illegal activity (such as building an illegal structure) from continuing; some builders still continue acting illegally in many such instances.

As such by law court processes, which have proven to drag long and to a point of impotence, have to take place and while they do take place City officials cannot take further action on the matter other than to just continue serving the ineffective notices. Meanwhile other people further the trend by following suit and building illegally wherein the same above process has to be followed.

We therefore believe that an amendment in legislation would go a long way in assisting to address such inefficiencies in a manner that would give officials authority to discharge their responsibilities effectively. This would, among other things, address the challenge of many illegal structures mushrooming across the City and thus curb another key contributor to urban decay.

7. What discussion, and progress, has been made regarding the setting up of municipal courts as per point 11 of the lekgotla report?
The MMC for public safety would give a better account in this regard as the process is being handled by his department at this stage.

8. There are no signs of a “sustained education and awareness programme” around littering as per point 12 of the report.
Why? When, if at all, is this expected to roll out and how much will it cost? What will the programme entail? Which areas does it seek to target? The awareness programme will emanate from the communication plan in the process for approval and implementation which includes enablement and enforcement factors. The cost thereof is not yet in place. It seeks to target areas where illegal dumping and littering is rife, in particular, and the rest of Region F in general.

9. What “fleet challenges” are Pikitup experiencing? What is being done to rectify the situation? What are the costs involved?
The environment, infrastructure and services department and the member of the mayoral committee thereof or the marketing directors of the relevant entities can give an account regarding this question.

10. What are the Visible Service Delivery Forum’s most recent agreed upon timelines, strategies and tactics to be implemented in relationship to management of the region on a short to medium term and long term basis? When where these finalised and agreed upon, if at all?
The environment, infrastructure and services department and the member of the mayoral committee thereof or the marketing directors of the relevant entities can give an account regarding this question.

11. What is the final cost of the programme?
It will be determined by the budgets allocated per municipal entity towards the development of the inner city and provision of infrastructure in relevant circumstances.”

Article available at http://www.mg.co.za/article/2013-11-01-00-joburgs-clean-sweep-the-city-reponds

Meeting with the City, 28 Oct 2013

Today I met with the City Manager and several officials – representing the legal department, Region F, Central strategy and JMPD.

Purpose:

The purpose of the meeting was to respond to my open letter.

I  was afforded the opportunity to raise a number of items and to speak freely on those. And the Chief of JMPD spoke about the operation of removing traders. Others talked about the plans to develop a plan to respond to the need for trader space.

I am concerned, and noted to the meeting, that neither spatial planning nor economic development officials were present and these officials may or may not be party of the City’s team that is currently dealing with street trading.

Officials inputs:

As I understood it the following things were raised by officials:

  • · Reason for the operation:

The reasons presented for the operation ranged widely and included cleanliness, security, congestion and management problems but also included a range of items labelled illegal and these included illegal trading as  well as illegal immigration. The need for a systematic and holistic approach was raised but not clarified. No answer was given to the question, ‘What was the instruction that was issued for this operation?’

  • · Plans ahead:

A team is preparing an urgent short-term plan and a longer-term plan to return legal traders to designated spaces. These spaces have not been decided but would be worked on in the next few days. The return of  traders in a block by block or space by space manner is being worked on.

  • · Urban management:

Other city units have addressed some of the urban management problems in some parts of the inner city – it is unclear how many areas or street blocks are targeted for repair and maintenance.

  • · Holistic development:

The City is working on an informal economy study and continues with its efforts to develop policy and approaches to the informal economy.

My inputs:

I raised the following concerns:

  • · Transparency:

A lot of local and international attention has ben drawn to this issue and its not possible to continue to ‘govern in the dark’ on it. The spotlight has been turned onto what the City is doing and to how it will react now  in the face of the removals it has executed.

  • · Nature of trade

The nature of trade in the second economy in the inner city is very complex. We don’t understand the nature of this activity which is survivalist as much as it is cross border trade and a feature of globalized economic  activity. It is transforming the nature of retail in the city and is part of international retail and globalization and migration trends. It is inappropriate to act against it without understanding it. And to use tools that  have been on the city’s books for 60 years to do so is a blunt response. It is also not developmental.

  • · Law enforcement and Development

Street trading is fundamentally an economic activity. The city has developmental and law enforcement tools and should not apply law enforcement ahead of development in responding to an economic feature of the  inner city.

  • · Informality

The definitions and lines of formality and informality and legality and illegality in this trade in the inner city are blurred. A responses that seeks to bring back ‘legal’ traders would need to clarify these definitions.

  • · Impact

The impact of these actions – as stated by trader associations – go beyond individual traders to their dependents. It also stretches up and down the supply chain with suppliers who would normally supply several  markets and traders having insufficient customers since the removals. This means traders in other legal markets are also having their supplies restricted as suppliers are not servicing the inner city.

Equally the traders and hawkers who buy from inner city traders, to sell countrywide, are not accessing goods.

  • · Urban Management:

I repeated the list of items that are in the draft Inner City Roadmap and that should be receiving urgent urban management attention in the inner city (this is what a clean and managed inner city requires, urgently):

·       Repair and maintain all traffic lights

·       Repair, upgrade and maintain all street signage- road names and traffic notices

·       Remove all excess and broken street furniture

·       Repair all necessary street furniture

·       Remove all rubble

·       Repair all storm water outlets and replace all manhole covers

·       Repair potholes

·       Repair all water leaks

·       Clean park space, maintain equipment

·       Repair and maintain public ablutions

·       Undertake a coordinated cleaning programme (not a once off campaign) with Pikitup, street traders and CIDs /private sector

  • · Plans ahead

There should be a staggered approach to reopening trade and it should commence immediately. A menu of spatial options – most of which exist in planning and transportation ideas and plans in the city should be  rolled out.

Conclusion:

This meeting was not conclusive.  I appreciate the acknowledgement of concerns and value the opportunity I was afforded to clarify those and to ask direct questions. However,  I believe there are multiple voices in the City and that we have not heard the developmental voice on this matter.

I also do not have clarity on what the instruction was that led to wholesale removal of traders.

The plan is not clear, but I understand the City is preparing a plan and response that will be communicated in the next few days.

I am concerned that Planning Department, Economic Development and the JDA  – all of whom historically work on street trading – were not at this meeting. I sincerely hope they are part of any team that is drawing up plans for the restoration of street trade in the inner city. I hope the City will act to reopen trade in the next few days – even if in some areas temporary space is allocated, with good urban management, so that trade can continue through this end of year peak period.

I reiterate my willingess to work in a process that includes the traders and stakeholders. And reiterate my concern that City policy and procedure cannot be flouted in these actions.

Best regards

Tanya Zack

Mayor Tau goes on the Inner City walkabout

From The City of Johannesburg:
“Mayor Tau goes on the Inner City walkabout
8 October 2013
The City of Johannesburg Mayor, Councillor Mpho Parks Tau, today went on a walkabout of the Inner City of Johannesburg to inspect the work by a multi-disciplinary team undertaken as part of the “Mayoral Clean Sweep”- Inner City Initiative.
The initiative came about following numerous site visits to the area by the Member of the Mayoral Committee responsible for Development Planning  Clr Ros Greeff, which highlighted the need for a bolder effort to deal with lawlessness that exacerbate challenges experienced in the Inner City.
Some of these challenges include the following:
•Illegal Trading Illegal dumping and littering
•Land and building invasions and other By-law contraventions
•Illegal connection of infrastructure including theft of electricity
•Lack of a sense of Civic Pride and ownership
The Inner City clean sweep initiative is supported by Public Safety/JMPD through the Region F’s integrated safety and security plan. It involves other government departments and entities such as Johannesburg Roads Agency, City Power, Pikitup, Joburg Water, Environment, Health and Johannesburg Property Company.
The overall clean sweep strategy aims to restore the Joburg Inner City, maintaining renewed standards and strengthen By-Law enforcement.
The Executive Mayor, Councillor Mpho Parks Tau said that the operation will continue until order is restored in the Inner City. “This is not one of those campaigns allocated a timeframe. The teams will be here every day until this area becomes what we want it to be,” he said.
As Joburg continues its journey towards 2040 a well governed and liveable city is a priority.
The well governed city is one whose environment is not only habitable and safe but conducive for growth and development for all its inhabitants, businesses, residents, investors and all relevant stakeholders.
All stakeholders are encouraged to work with the City and actively engage with its programmes such as the current Clean Sweep initiative and many other initiatives.
“The City of Johannesburg believes that it is well on track to realising the aspirations of the Joburg 2040 – Growth and Development Strategy (GDS) by empowering communities to actively participate in determining the development priorities,” concluded Mayor Tau.”

Read more: http://www.joburg.org.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8816:mayor-tau-goes-on-the-inner-city-walkabout-&catid=88:news-update&Itemid=266#ixzz2ij4mYUhO