Durban street trader organisations demand a halt to harassment and evictions

21 November 2006

Informal trade organisations are planning to march from Botha`s Garden (opposite Durban Christian Centre, Berea Rd) to City Hall on Tuesday 21st November 2006 at 10 am to demand a moratorium on police crackdowns against street traders until the review of the Ethekwini Municipality`s policy on informal trade is complete.

The Eye Traders Association, Siyagunda Association and Phoenix Plaza Traders` Association are demanding the city consult with street trader organisations about the issues that affect their day-to-day efforts to earn an honest living and requesting negotiation and dialogue with the municipality. We will also challenge the Ethekwini Municipality to join the World Class Cities for All Campaign which calls for consultative processes in the lead up the 2010 FIFA World Cup to ensure that street traders, and other groups of the urban poor, are not unilaterally evicted without alternatives, or unnecessarily disadvantaged by urban renewal plans.

The Informal Policy as it has being implemented uses police repression as its chief way of regulating our sector. We see that in 2006, there should be a broader vision that puts development of people as the priority, as well as education and the informing of street traders of their rights.

Street traders are being turned into criminals and treated as a nuisance, when in fact we are making an economic contribution to the city. We see that people who have permits are being subjected to the same continual harrasment as those do not have permits to trade. There must be a change of heart about informal trade.

Many thousands of people and families are earning a living through informal trade because of the high rate of unemployment, poverty and HIV/AIDS. We need leadership that has a broader vision and recognises the potential and value of the sector to come up with a better approach than this severe and unjust policy that we are seeing.

As the city is reviewing the policy implementation process, we would like them to be fully aware of the problems that we are experiencing and to consider our concerns as legitimate. By confiscating the goods of the working poor who have no other means to earn a living, and evicting people without providing any alternatives, the problem of the city and street traders will get worse and not better in the long-term.

For more information contact:

Jabulani Maxwell (Chairperson Eye Traders` Association) 0738978203

Gaby Bikombo (Chairperson Siyagunda Association) 0732510686

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StreetNet International

StreetNet International is an alliance of street vendors. It was launched in Durban, South Africa, in November 2002.

Membership-based organizations (unions, co-operatives or associations) directly organizing street vendors, market vendors and/or hawkers among their members, are entitled to affiliate to StreetNet International.

The aim of StreetNet is to promote the exchange of information and ideas on critical issues facing street vendors, market vendors and hawkers (i.e. mobile vendors) and on practical organizing and advocacy strategies