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Hunger bites in street vendors' homes

Zulu Ubissi and his wife are back trading on the streets of Germiston, Ekurhuleni./ANTONIO MUCHAVE
Zulu Ubissi and his wife are back trading on the streets of Germiston, Ekurhuleni./ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Informal traders in Germiston on the East Rand have started trading without temporary permits, arguing that hunger is intensifying in their homes.

Last week, the government announced it would allow informal food traders to sell on the streets but they need to obtain permission from the municipality.

Yesterday, Sheila Ubissi and her husband Zulu Ubissi of Palm Ridge were selling vegetables next to the Golden Walk mall in Germiston.

"We only started on Saturday because things were really bad. We could not wait to get a permit first. Hunger was taking its toll in the family. Me and my husband sell fruits and vegetables here. We take care of our 16 children. Since the lockdown began we have been really struggling. There was absolutely nothing in the house.

"We had to take our chance and come and try to sell. We really had no choice."

The couple has been selling fruits and vegetables for more than 20 years. Fortunately for them, the Joburg Market has not been closed during the lockdown, allowing them to get fresh produce to sell.

About 200 metres from their stand, Ray Mashaba was selling face cloths, socks, umbrellas, nail clippers and ear buds.

"I cannot steal. Begging is also difficult. I was left with no choice but to come and sell my stuff today. Hunger was intense in the house. I have five children and a wife to take care of. Please tell me how am I supposed to survive under these conditions," he said.

They do not have the required hawker's trading permit allowing them to trade on any other day.

The City of Ekurhuleni said the temporary trading permits will only be issued to the current legal hawking permit holders.

"No new permit applications or proxies or transfers shall be considered during the period of the lockdown. However, spaza shops that do not have trading licences or permits . shall be granted temporary reprieve through the issuance of trading permission that will apply for the duration of the declared lockdown on condition that the application is supported by the ward councillor," the city in its statement.

Traders wanting the permit can download application forms from its website or visit their nearest customer centre.

Meanwhile, in the Johannesburg inner city, no hawkers tried to trade without the temporary permits. Spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane said permits would be issued only for those selling food - fruit and vegetables.


"All people who sell food already have COA [certificate of acceptability] and all those already trading in Johannesburg have smart cards with them. The idea is to cater for existing traders. No chancers."

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