Unwavering City suspends trader’s permit

The City has suspended Kuils River trader Ettiene Gideon’s permit – just days after he won a court case against them over an expired permit.

The City appears to have doubled down on sanctioning Kuils River trader Ettiene Gideons – suspending his permit, just days after he won a court case the City brought against him for trading with an expired permit.

Mr Gideons, who has been trading on the De Kuilen Shopping Centre parking bays since 2012, was earlier this month dragged to court by the City for trading with an expired permit, but the case was thrown out of the Blue Downs Magistrate’s Court on March 1.

By Wednesday March 2, the City had sent Mr Gideons a notice, seen by Northern News, informing him of his permit’s suspension until he paid R1 500 by March 31.

This is despite a government waiver signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which is a relief measure protecting traders from renewing their permits until December 2022; a City regulation stipulating that lapsed permits would need no renewal until June 30; and the court dismissal.

The notice is signed by the City official Samantha October, who wrote that the suspension would be lifted once he paid R1 578 by Thursday March 31.

An unyielding but worried Mr Gideons said he could not afford to stop trading.

“I feel terrible. I feel like I’m going to lose my bay. I feel like I’m being targeted because this was in the media,” he said. “I feel awful. I’m still trading. I don’t know what will happen, but I am still trading.”

He said he would not be able to pay R1 578.

South African Informal Traders’ Alliance (SAITA) national director Paul Bester, who represented Mr Gideons in the court case, said: “We were expecting a (backlash) of some sort, and, lo and behold, again the traders are made political play balls by the DA-led City.”

Mr Bester said they had raised issue with mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos and were awaiting feedback. In the meantime, Saita has told the traders to keep trading.

The City did not immediately respond to questions, but the authorities previously told Northern News they were “duty-bound” to see to it that traders keep their permits up to date.

However, in a statement on Wednesday March 9, Mr Vos said he had begun visiting traders across the city.

Mayoral committee member for economic growth James Vos and ward councillor Wouter de Vos recently visited the De Kuilen, Kuils River traders.

Addressing the issue of expired permits, Mr Vos said: “While some of these permits may have expired, in line with the president’s proclamation, we recognise that they are valid until December 2022. The conditions of those permits are equally valid and must be respected by traders.”

Mr Vos said City officials worked with traders to help them understand and comply with trading rules.

“In some instances, unfortunately, traders might disobey these rules and their permit conditions, and that is when enforcement is required,” Mr Vos said, adding that by-laws would be enforced in those cases.

Mr Vos said his directorate would, in future budget cycles, prioritise capital projects for accessible trading spaces.

“I will continue to engage traders and communities to understand their perspectives and find solutions,” Mr Vos said.

He recognised that their needs “ultimately come down to trading spaces that are dignified, accessible, and well-located”, he said.