Friday, May 24, 2024

South Africa: Limpopo Hawkers Evicted to Make Way for Road Repairs

These Elim vendors pay licence fees but they have not been helped to find an alternative trading site

  • Hawkers who for years have sold food along the D4 near Elim, Limpopo, say they were given two days to move so that road repairs could start.
  • The hawkers pay annual fees to the Makhado municipality and to the traditional council, but neither of these bodies has helped them.
  • Some of the hawkers have moved to temporary sites but they say business is bad at their new locations.

Dozens of hawkers, who have been selling food and other products along the D4 road near Elim in Limpopo, say they were given two days to dismantle their stalls so that road repairs could start.

The hawkers say they should have been given more notice and should have been allocated temporary spaces.

The R20-million road repair of the D4, which connects Elim township to the N1, started in July and is expected to be completed by December, according to the Limpopo Department of Public Works.

Julia Madavha, leader of the hawkers, said most of them have been trading along the road for more than ten years.

When GroundUp visited the site on Saturday, 14 October, some of the hawkers were trying to set up stalls along the Elim-Louis Trichardt road. Others had decided to stop trading while they looked for new sites. Some sell perishables and they were worried that their stock will expire.

Madavha said the hawkers pay R500 a year to the traditional council and R285 to the municipality for a licence to trade.

John Ntabeni, from the Njhakanjhaka traditional council, confirmed the fee. He said he had advised the hawkers to find alternative sites. Asked whether the hawkers would be helped to find new sites, he said the tribal authority was “looking into the matter”.

GroundUp also saw a copy of the “street vendor license” and a renewal receipt from September 2023 issued to one of the hawkers. The fee has gone up from R259.30 last year to R285 this year.

However, spokesperson for the Makhado municipality, Louis Bobodi, said the hawkers did not pay fees according to his information, and he asked us to send him copies.

Eunice Mhaka, who sells bananas, mopane worms and atchar from the back of her Toyota bakkie, said she has moved with Madavha to another road, the R578 to Louis Trichardt.

“I am a widow and this is my only means of providing food for my family. I have been running the stall for more than a decade and this has been my source of money for educating my children. Now I am really stranded since most of my customers are not aware of my temporary place,” said Mhaka.