Rents rile vendors

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

More than 1000 informal traders brought Durban to a standstill yesterday when they marched through the city centre protesting against rent increases.

The protest by street vendors from Phoenix, Pinetown, Tongaat and surrounding areas was peaceful.

Trader John Khomo said the municipality had increased the rent he must pay for his stall twice this year.

"The rent for stalls has increased from R10 to R40, which is a 300percent increase," he said.

Khomo said that of 25000 street vendors operating in the metro, only 6000 had permits.

"We have been applying for permits for far too long and we don't know why they fail to give them to us.

"We don't get clarity or any feedback, and the police arrest us for not having permits," Khomo said.

In a memo to city manager Mike Sutcliffe, the vendors have asked that the rent not be increased until they have negotiated with the council.

"We demand that they negotiate with us first in anything they want to do.

"We cannot allow a situation in which people take decisions for us," the vendors said in their memorandum.

Nomusa Zwane, 54, said she had been selling in the streets of Durban for 10 years, but had been harassed and abused by the metro police, despite her contribution to the city's economy.

Durban's acting mayor Logie Naidoo said some of the concerns by traders were genuine and would be looked into.