Permits bring no joy for street vendors as customer numbers dwindle

Zulu Ubissi and his wife are back trading on the streets of Germiston, Ekurhuleni. Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said some of the 21-day lockdown regulations could change, with some being relaxed and others tightened.
Zulu Ubissi and his wife are back trading on the streets of Germiston, Ekurhuleni. Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has said some of the 21-day lockdown regulations could change, with some being relaxed and others tightened.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Gadzanani Ndlovu will be able to provide for her three children again after the government gave spaza shop owners and informal street traders the green light to start operating again.

Ndlovu was one of hundreds of traders who queued at Thuso House in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, yesterday to collect temporary permits.

"We are happy about this change that the government has made. We were starting to suffer, our families were starting to grow hungry and we didn't have any means of taking care of them," Ndlovu told Sowetan yesterday.

Ndlovu said she supported her family with a daily income of R500 that was split between family and stocking up.

"I have been selling fruits and vegetables for over 10 years in Hillbrow. It's the only thing I know how to do."

Ndlovu and thousands of informal traders will be able to trade again after cooperative governance minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma announced last week that informal traders could again start earning a living during the lockdown.

She said some of the 21-day lockdown regulations could change, with some being relaxed and others tightened.

Sizwe Mabizela, a spaza shop owner from Zola, Soweto, said the continued lockdown would have crippled their businesses further and they would have faced shutting their doors for good.

Meanwhile, some informal traders are calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to compensate them so as to be able to pay for rent and buy groceries for their families.

Thulekile Ndiweni, 49, who sells vegetables in Cosmo City, north of Johannesburg, said they're in a dire situation.

"There should be a grant for informal traders because we are not coping at all. We appreciate that we have been allowed to sell again but who are we going to sell to if people are on lockdown. For instance, this morning I haven't sold much and I can only buy bread for my family and nothing else," she said.

Another informal trader, Dumazile Khabo, 43, said she only made R10 by 1pm yesterday.

"I've been here for five hours and have only sold one bunch of morogo for R10. This period has been very hard on us, our kids are hungry."

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