SABC News - Evictions an attack on dignity: Traders:Saturday 5 April 2014

Evictions an attack on dignity: Traders

Saturday 5 April 2014 11:05

Tshepo Phagane

City of Johannesburg has argued that disorderly trading areas interfered with citizens' rights to proper use and enjoyment of facilities around trading areas

City of Johannesburg has argued that disorderly trading areas interfered with citizens' rights to proper use and enjoyment of facilities around trading areas(SABC)

Johannesburg street traders say the City's conduct when evicting them from their stalls and confiscating their goods last year was an attack on their dignity.

On Friday the Constitutional Court handed down judgment explaining its reasons for ordering the City of Johannesburg to allow informal traders to return to their stalls.

In October last year, Metro police officers acting on the instruction of the mayor forcibly evicted the informal traders from their stalls and confiscated their goods as part of Operation Clean Sweep.

The Operation was to get rid of the City's unsightly and disorderly trading areas which the City alleges gave rise to criminality and interfered with citizens' rights to proper use and enjoyment of facilities around trading areas.

In its ruling, the Constitutional Court described Operation Clean Sweep as indiscriminate and flawed, finding that the City had gone about achieving its objectives in flagrant disregard of the traders rights.

The court interdicted the City and its metro police from interfering with the operations of the traders

Attorney for the informal traders, Nomzamo Zondo, says the City as an organ of State sets an example and that when it breaks the law it encourages chaos.

Zondo says when the City treats the poor as something less human it encourages others to do the same.

Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court’s decision to set aside a High Court order meant it allowed informal traders in Johannesburg to return to their inner city stalls. The court interdicted the City and its metro police from interfering with the operations of the traders.

The City was also ordered to pay the costs of both court applications. The traders took the city to the High Court in Johannesburg after being removed from their trading posts. They wanted to be allowed back to their spots and also wanted a review of the City's conduct.

The High Court initially refused to grant the traders an interim order and struck the matter off the roll for lack of urgency.

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