'market is here to stay'

DURBAN ANC ward councillor Vusi Khoza yesterday backed the strong calls to retain the historic Warwick Avenue Morning Market which celebrated its 100th anniversary yesterday.

The ANC-led eThekwini municipality and the Early Morning Market Traders Association, who have been trading at the market for more than three generations, are in court over the future of the historic site.

The city wants the market demolished to pave the way for a R400million shopping mall.

Speaking at the celebration Khoza said the "market must stay". His call was cheered by thousands of traders, residents and academics, at the Early Morning Market on Durban's busy Warwick Avenue.

"The city does not care about the poorest of the poor who are the traders at this market. They have not taken into account the impact their actions will have on the poor people who trade here," Khoza said.

"I am speaking out against this because I am not a puppet. I feel they do not have the interests of the poor at heart."

On Tuesday Durban high court judge Logesh Pillay ruled that city officials may not interfere in the centenary celebrations that Early Morning Market Traders Association planned for yesterday.

This followed a move last week by the head of the business support and markets unit, Philip Sithole, who rejected the trader's application to hold the celebrations. The city insisted that they were not planning to derail the celebrations.

Sithole said: "It [eThekwini municipality] wanted more information about the issues of safety and security for the public and those attending the event from the organisers.

"It has never been the municipality's intention to stop the event but it wanted municipal procedures to be followed. We are happy that the other party now understands that there are rules and procedures that have to be followed when applying for such events."

The future of the historic market is still the subject of a court battle between the eThekwini municipality and association.

The association has said the city's efforts were illegal and they have the backing of a range of local and international organisations.

The province also stepped in and, through the efforts of MEC for economic development and tourism Mike Mabuyakhulu a joint task team was formed to resolve the conflict between the two parties.

The task team is expected to reconvene when the court outcome is announced. Provincial heritage watchdog Amafa is also in favour of the historic site being saved.