ANGRY CAPE HAWKERS TO TAKE CITY TO COURT
ANGRY Western Cape hawkers and fruit farmers say they will take the city to the Constitutional Court over a new by-law they fear will put many of them out of jobs.
The Informal Trading by-law prevents trading in certain busy areas. More than 1000 traders from Mitchells Plain have been protesting against the by-law for the past year.
At a heated meeting of about 100 fruit and vegetable sellers at the city's Epping Market yesterday, the group's fiery attorney, Ighsaan Higgins, urged the hawkers not to allow the city to prevent them from trading.
"The council is only in power for two more years until you vote them in or out. Your businesses must continue," Higgins said.
He lashed out at Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, saying she attended festivals organised by the Muslim community "for the votes".
"But when we want her at these meetings we are told she is too busy.
"They say we cause the city to stink. But they cannot say you must not trade here because you are crime and grime," Higgins said.
"Where there are hawkers there is no crime. If anyone is robbed, hawkers become the enforcers of justice."
Apple farmers from the Overberg, about 100km from Cape Town, said they would support the hawkers - who sell their produce.
"It is a shame that your business is seen as a criminal activity," said Dominee, and apple farmer.
"When politicians need our crosses they know where we live, but when they want to oppress us they come with a piece of paper because we can't read or write."
The hawkers and apple farmers said they would contribute whatever they can afford to set up a R1million "war chest" to take the city on in court.
"We are going to the Constitutional Court because our rights are being trampled on," Higgins said.
The meeting also lashed out at Fifa, with hawkers saying they were expecting to be "pushed to one side" when the World Cup started.
But Higgins told them: "Fifa is not the government of this country. They are only visitors here".
Suleiman Arnold, who has sold fruit next to a busy road in Delft for 25 years, told Sowetan that the Metro police damaged more than R20000 worth of goods when they allegedly swooped on him last month and confiscated his produce.
"They told me to fetch it the next week. By that time it was rotten," Arnold said.
City spokesperson Paul Williamson said "the by-law is likely to positively affect the livelihoods of informal traders and will ensure more opportunities".