TMPD crackdown on street vendors sparks fear and concern

Street traders live in fear of being moved or having their goods confiscated as the by-law unit of the Tshwane Metro Police Department (TMPD) sweeps through Pretoria to conduct various by-law and road safety operations.

Thomas Moyo has been making and selling wooden goods from the side of the road since 2013.

Vendors raided last week

He said he saw metro cops raiding street vendors in Lynnwood last week, but was lucky to escape without a fine.

“We saw how they took some of their stuff and then they gave them fines,” he said.

He said he had been fined before and had to pay between R250 and R500 to get his goods back.

“It takes me about three hours to make a triple flower box which I sell for R500 and a picket fence for under R100 a section,” he said.

Moyo said traders didn’t have anywhere else to sell their handmade goods but on the side of the road. “We don’t have any other option to survive,” he said.

Barely scraping by

Edmore Mhungu makes and sells bamboo fences and decorations on Garsfontein Drive. He said he didn’t make enough from this and barely scraped by.

“I support my wife, five children, my parents, and my brother’s children with the money I make here,” he said.

Mhungu said he bought the bamboo in North West and sat on the side of the road where he made the fence.

“It takes me about 30 minutes for a two-by-two-metre fence, I can make about five on a good day,” said Mhungu.

He said it was a process because the bamboo had to be cut, cleaned, and put together. He lived on the street under the tree where he made and sold the bamboo.

“I am not scared to sleep here. When I see a tsotsi I chase them, I take care of this area,” he said.

Mhungu said winter was the most challenging time on the street but that he had no other way of life.

“A bad day in South Africa is still better than a good day in Zimbabwe,” he said.

City supports trading when adhered to by-laws

Democratic Alliance councillor and MMC of finance Jacqui Uys said the city supported informal trading when it adhered to municipal by-laws.

“Unfortunately, none of the traders in that area have the necessary permits. Various points have been used to help with this.”

Uys said if they had a permit, one of the prerequisites would have been that they could not manufacture along the road.

“Unfortunately the sellers on the stretch of road fail in this. That is why they are regularly removed by the city, fires along the road put people’s houses at risk and are a health risk, the waste from manufacturing is thrown into stormwater channels and becomes a flood risk, the manufacturing causes a lot of noise…” said Uys.

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