South Africa


Informal traders accuse City of Cape Town of neglecting the Mitchells Plain town centre

Informal traders accuse City of Cape Town of neglecting the Mitchells Plain town centre
Informal Traders from Mitchells Plain want the City of Cape Town to help improve safety and provide services for those working in the town centre. (Photo: Ashraf Hendricks)

Informal traders from Mitchells Plain marched on Tuesday, demanding the City of Cape Town improve safety, clean the area and provide access to public toilets in Mitchells Plain town centre. They say traders are finding it difficult to make money because the area is overpopulated with other traders.

First published by GroundUp

About 50 members of the Mitchells Plain United Hawkers’ Forum marched to the civic centre in Cape Town on Tuesday over safety concerns and the lack of services for them in the Mitchells Plain town centre.

They handed over a memorandum to the City’s Mayco member for urban management, Grant Twigg. The informal traders say their complaints have been falling on deaf ears.

Among their complaints is the lack of involvement by law enforcement, illegal trading, safety, the lack of ablution facilities and incomplete electricity supply in the Mitchells Plain town centre.

“No attention was given to deep sanitising due to the coronavirus pandemic. Refuse, wet and dry, is still seen strewn around and not removed timeously,” the memorandum stated.

The lack of access to public toilets meant the town centre reeked of faeces and urine. 

The traders said more than 500 informal traders worked at the Mitchells Plain town centre. Forum members said the area is “over-traded” and they struggled to make money.

Shireen Rowland, convener and forum secretary, said they were fed up with “being around the table for talks for seven years” without seeing any results. 

She said that several traders “feel that they are being disrespected” by the lack of involvement by the City to ensure safety in the environment in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If we continue trading there then we are going to become the new epicentre of Mitchells Plain because there has been no deep cleansing,” Rowland said.

Junaid Isaacs, 45, is a trader in the town centre and has been in the business for more than 30 years. Isaacs said that other traders rely on him to approach gang members in an effort to return their stolen products. 

He said that illegal trading in the town centre is his biggest concern. 

“Most of the people here are breadwinners for their household, but now they can’t make as much [money] as they used to.”

Daily criminal activity in the area, including drug-dealing and robberies, have turned potential customers away which has negatively affected the traders’ businesses, Isaacs said.

The march was supported by the Western Cape Informal Traders Coalition who said “their grievances and concerns are no less important than those we all face regardless of where we trade”.

“It is high time this City acknowledges the challenges and difficulties informal traders face, and that the City acts immediately on addressing them,” the group said in its statement.

The City had not responded to GroundUp’s questions by the time of publication. DM



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