[SERI press release] Informal Traders Appeal to Con Court

PRESS STATEMENT

Issued by: Socio-Economic Rights Institute of SA (SERI)

2 December 2013 

Informal Traders Appeal to Con Court

The South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and over 1 200 informal traders have applied to the Constitutional Court for leave to appeal the South Gauteng High Court order handed down on 27 November, which struck the traders’ case from the roll.

SAITF wants the matter dealt with urgently and for the Constitutional Court to place the traders – who have always traded lawfully – in a position to continue with their lawful business activities, pending the determination of the appeal (either to the Constitutional Court or to a Full Bench of the High Court). This trading would occur in line with the City of Johannesburg’s Informal Trading By-Laws at the locations the traders occupied immediately before their removal in terms of Operation Clean Sweep.

Informal traders operating in the CBD have been unable to earn their living and provide for their families for more than a month now, because of a combination of the unlawful conduct of the City and the refusal of the High Court to grant them interim relief on an urgent basis. SERI argues that, unless this application succeeds, they will be unable to earn their living and provide for their families for at least two and half more months. This is unacceptable, as the traders face utter destitution, including eviction from their homes, inability to buy food or pay for water, electricity or essential medication or pay their children’s school fees.

The interim relief sought by the traders is narrow and carefully tailored. It is aimed at preserving their basic dignity and the integrity of their livelihoods, while the City’s actions are reviewed.

The traders hope to be heard in the Constitutional Court on Thursday, 5 December 2013.

Download the court papers and read more on the case here: bit.ly/1apZ5yw

Contact:

Nomzamo Zondo, attorney at SERI: nomzamo@seri-sa.org / 071 638 6304 / 011 356 5868

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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.

AGREEMENT BROKEN, JOHANNESBURG VERSUS THE POOR

S A NATIONAL TRADERS RETAIL ALLIANCE

“ a voice from the peoples economy ”

5 NOVEMBER 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; Edmund Elias, spokesperson, cell 0721572481

AGREEMENT BROKEN, JOHANNESBURG VERSUS THE POOR

¤ The informal trading fiasco is rapidly worsening because the agreement reached between trader leaders and city officials at the week~end,  which specifically stated that immediately on verification traders in the five identified streets would return to trade has been broken.

¤ The 250 traders verified in Wanderers, Klein, Pleini,Hoek and de Villiers Streets WILL NOT BE TRADING TODAY as mutually agreed at a meeting held on Saturday.

¤ At Saturdays meeting a city official spoke of a planning map that showed suitable and unsuitable trading streets but failed to produce the map for discussion on request.

¤ NO RESPECT FOR THE POOR. It is now obvious that those who administer the city see the presence of poor people to be a nuisance. Ever effort is being made to obstruct and make it as difficult as possible for poor people to make a living.

¤ CRIME, GRIME, OBSTRUCTIONS argument ~ given as the reason for cleaning up the poor is wearing thin as several thousand traders who were trading in a clean well managed City improvement District have also been cleaned because they are poor.

¤ Large crowds of desperate displaced traders will again  gather from 8am this morning at Metro Centre in the hope of being allowed to  exercise their democratic and constitutional right to trade

THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS NOW UNFOLDS UNDER THE MAYORS NOSE

S A NATIONAL TRADERS RETAIL ALLIANCE

“ a voice from the peoples economy ”

4 NOVEMBER 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; Edmund Elias,  spokesperson, Cell.  072 157 2481

UPDATE: THE HUMANITARIAN CRISIS NOW UNFOLDS UNDER THE MAYORS NOSE.

As he can now watch the human suffering that his clean up of the poor is causing  from his office window.

¤ 35 DAYS AFTER BEING REMOVED a now  estimated 8,000 Johannesburg inner city hawkers  remain without income as city officials begin a “ very slow ”. verification process.  Thousands of displaced traders spent the day in vain hoping to be  verified.

¤  Adding to the confusion is the fact that others did not have transport money, due to not having had income for so long, to reach the Metro Centre  where the process is taking place.   Their absence could leave these individuals without a trading space.

¤ AN APPEAL TO THE MAYORAL COMMITTEE. We make an urgent appeal to The Johannesburg Mayoral Committee to allow all displaced traders to return to their trading sites immediately and continue the verification process with the same task team on a block by block basis.

¤ In terms of an agreement between city officials and trader leaders five streets with verified traders would be openedtomorrow morning.  That appears unlikely.

¤ The present situation is not only chaotic but grossly inhumane. We are constantly  being told that they could have done it better.  NOW IS THE TIME TO DO IT BETTER.

¤ NOT THE PRODUCT OF ENGAGEMENT The clean up plan was never tabled for discussion at the informal trading forum. A GLARING OMISSION.

¤ INSENSITIVITY OF THE MAYORAL COMMITTEE to a humanitarian crisis of its own creation is disturbing as that political entity faces a serious CREDIBILTY CRISIS.

¤  Tomorrow will be another day in the sun outside the Mayors office for thousands waiting to be verified.

CITY OF JOHANNESBURG AND DISPLACED CBD STREET TRADERS STRIKE A DEAL

S A NATIONAL TRADERS’ RETAIL ALLIANCE

A voice from the peoples economy

3  November 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE; Edmund Elias, spokesperson, Cell 072 157. 2481

CITY Of JOHANNESBURG AND DISPLACED CBD STREET TRADERS STRIKE  A DEAL

After two days of intense engagement between a Johannesburg COSATU led coalitiion of informal trader leaders and city politicians and officials agreement has been reached.

¤ TERMS OF AGREEMENT:  A joint task team of traders and city officials will begin an immediate verification process to identify suitable trading locations and  establish legitimacy of individual traders.

¤  This will be done at the rate of 5 streets at a time. The first group of displaced traders should  be in business again by Tuesday 5 november. Priority would be given to those holding COJ issued smart cards and those who were removed from designated trading spaces, including the successfully managed City Improvement District areas.                                                .

¤ Confiscated stock would be returned without payment of penalties

¤ There would be urgent focus on the  development of a  sustainable public space management model  to ensure that past chaos in certain areas is not repeated.

¤ The city wide informal trading forum would soon be reconvened,   under the chairmanship of Economic Development Mayoral Committee member, Ruby Mataung.

¤ THE LESSONS TO BE LEARNED: Direct engagement between local government politicians and ordinary people produces positive outcomes that reduce friction levels.             That past gap must be permanently narrowed.

¤ Peoples`economic activity from public spaces  can easily be integrated with urban renewal initiatives in a sustainable manned that benefits the city economy as a whole,  as well as all stake holders. That is the norm in our own City Improvement District zones as well as places such as Singapore etc. Inter dependence between formal and properly managed informal components of our economy was previously under estimated.

¤ Heavy handed law enforcement tactics should be a last resort and not a first option as is the case with the present Mayoral clean up. The plan, as it moves to all parts of the city needs to be modified to prevent a repeat of last months events. Non criminals should be engaged with whilst criminals identified and severely dealt with.

¤ MATTERS OF IMMEDIATE CONCERN: Unchecked, daily Metro Police Brutality during Operation Clean Up.

¤ Continuing punitive measures such as confiscation of street traders stock, as a method of punishment in. Congested areas where there is no efficient  public space management, this  remains  an open door for theft and corruption.

¤ Lack of compensation for traders wrongfully and illegally displaced during the operation