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The owners of Debonairs Pizza and Easy Build in Burger Street in Louis Trichardt are concerned about hawkers who have been forcefully occupying space in front of their businesses since Sunday. Photo: Bernard Chiguvare.

Hawkers are killing our business, say shop owners

 

Several businesses operating in Burger Street, in the centre of Louis Trichardt’s CBD, are fuming after hawkers’ stalls have sprung up in front of their premises, effectively blocking access and making it difficult for customers to reach them.

Business owners expressed their frustration earlier this week with the local municipality’s seeming unwillingness to act and remove the hawkers. Some even threatened to get a court interdict to force the municipality to adhere to legislation and protect their rights to do business.

The conflict between hawkers and business owners is mostly in Burger Street, between Songozwi and Devenish streets. The problem also seems to emanate from the municipality’s decision to upgrade the hawkers’ trading area adjacent to Shoprite. While this is in progress, they have to find an alternative venue to conduct their business.

According to Ms Elize Fouché, manager at Steers, things started to get really suspicious on Sunday, 27 February. “We noticed some hawkers who started preparing to sell their goods, but we were still not sure what was going on - until the next morning [Monday, 28 February]. There were hawkers everywhere; their stalls set up right in front of our businesses. We tried to explain to the hawkers that they have to move, but they won’t budge,” Fouché said.

The hawkers, who have been running their stalls at the Shoprite taxi rank for years, claim to have been moved to that side by the municipality as a temporary measure for three months while the municipality fixes their original vending area.

Fouché has been running her restaurant at the same premises in Burger Street for more than two decades and says that this is the first time she has experienced a situation like this. “We were never consulted or informed by the municipality about anything. These hawkers disturb the free movement of my customers. They litter everywhere and don’t bother to clean up around them. This is a great concern for us.”

Mr Aujum Maqsood, owner of the Cheap Friendly Focus Shop, is also worried about the rising number of hawkers in front of his business. “When I noticed the hawkers sitting in front of my shop, I reported the matter to the police. The police came out to look at the situation, but advised me to report the matter to the municipality. When I phoned the municipality, they said they would send law enforcement, but I still have not seen law enforcers here,” he said.

Other businesses who are affected by the hawkers’ taking over the pavement area include Debonairs Pizza and Easy Build.

Some of the hawkers, who spoke to Limpopo Mirror on condition of anonymity, say that if they stop running their stalls, there is no way they can provide for their families. “This is my only means of surviving. I have been running this stall for more than two decades. If I stop now, it will mean that my family and I will have to struggle to put food on the table,” a 55-year-old merchant said.

Another merchant could not understand why the shop owners are concerned, as they sell completely different commodities. “Most of us [hawkers] sell fruits and vegetables, which is quite different from what they are selling,” the 52-year-old woman said.

In response to the media’s enquiry about the situation, Peter Muthambi from the Makhado Municipality only replied that they were conducting an investigation into the matter.

 

 

Date:05 March 2022 - By: Bernard Chiguvare

Bernard Chiguvare

Bernard Chiguvare is a Zimbabwean-born journalist. He writes mainly for the online publication, Groundup.

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