POLITICAL NEWS - A group of informal traders who make their living on Tshwane’s streets yesterday protested outside the High Court in Pretoria where the city sought to overturn an interdict stopping the metro police from harassing them.
Four of the hawkers, who say they represent the Tshwane Barekishi Forum, in May obtained an interim interdict to stop police from harassing its members and seizing goods, pending the finalisation of an application to force police to inform them in writing where their goods were taken and to return them.
The city opposed the application, saying the court should not condone the unlawful action of hawkers who refused to be registered, traded without licences and ignored Tshwane’s bylaws. Judge Nomsa Khumalo will give her ruling next week.
The hawkers have accused Tshwane of imposing unfair and unconstitutional conditions when renewing licences by limiting trading hours and denying them a chance to state their case. They said this had caused many to go back to selling in the streets without licences.
Among other complaints, they also accused the metro police of harassing and intimidating them and resorting to violence when they tried to protect their goods.
The chief of the city’s metro police Johanna Nkomo said in an affidavit the hawkers lacked the authority to litigate against the city, had obtained an interdict without notifying the municipality and failed to provide proof of their claims of harassment, which the metro police denied.
She said the city’s informal traders had been given a chance to participate in a public consultation of the bylaws and were notified that no informal traders would be allowed after July unless they were registered.
She denied that the city imposed unreasonable trading hours and said the metro police acted lawfully when they confiscated the goods of unlicensed traders. Perishable goods were kept for 24 hours and disposed of if they were not claimed.