Pretoria – Hats and shoes, sweets, fruit and bric a brac … it is all available on the streets of Sunnyside where hawkers ply their trade, trying to make enough to put food on the table for their families.
Many of the traders are from other countries in the region and do not necessarily have trading permits.
But when approached, they said they were making an honest living, especially considering the condition in their home countries was dire.
During a walkabout yesterday it was clear that despite city by-laws and the Covid-19 lockdown curbs, there was illegal activity as traders sold anything from second-hand goods to food on tables and boxes set up on the pavement.
On Jorissen Street some traders said they had applied for permits but were given the runaround because of their nationality.
Others said they were left to do what they could to make ends meet, regardless of the legal issues.
Most said they had not been able to travel home for the festive season because of the financial situation and fears of contracting Covid-19.
Ward councillor Shaun Wilkinson said he was inundated with complaints from residents about the increasing number of informal traders in the area, which prompted him to address the matter with them.
However, some traders accused the complainants of being xenophobic.
“The problem is, the traders have no permits, which means they have not taken health and hygiene measures, there no clean and running water for them to use, and they dump their waste illegaly,” he claimed.
Wilkinson said they took over the pavements and related the story of two elderly sight challenged ladies who had to stop in their tracks because there was no space for them to move.
He said no matter one’s nationality, the rules applied to everyone, and those who defied them should face the consequences.
Despite city and metro police not responding to questions posed, they did mention that since the start of the festive season started, metro police and members of the SAPS had been deployed to all parts of the city, particularly areas such as Sunnyside.