Victory at last for Johannesburg street traders!

After two months of bitter struggle, the Workers and Socialist Party is today together with thousands of Johannesburg street traders and their organisations, celebrating a great victory: the Constitutional Court has granted with immediate effect our application for traders to return to the streets, for the City of Johannesburg to re-erect their demolished trading stands, stop all forced removals, harassment and confiscation of goods!

The interdict application, which was brought by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI) with the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) as the main application, had been turned down by the South Gauteng High Court on November 27. This scandalous and clearly politically influenced judgment, which amounted to saying the City rendering 50 000 people destitute and hungry is not an urgent issue, has now been set aside by the Con Court.

We appreciate that the Con Court has applied the law of the land as it should. It remains an indictment on the state and the ruling party, however, that it had to take over two months of relentless struggle to achieve this victory. During this time, families deprived of their incomes have been evicted from their homes, mothers and children have fainted from hunger, learners have struggled to complete their schooling. Meanwhile the City never had a case for ‘Operation Clean-Sweep’ – the forced removal of about 8000 street traders. It was undertaken with complete disregard for the law.  In fact, as has now been confirmed by Con Court, the ‘Clean Sweep’ was a mere official cover for unrestrained and unlawful policy brutality, bureaucratic abuse and ruling party corruption.

This is a victory not only for the Johannesburg hawkers. It’s a victory for working class and poor people across the country. Struggle pays – but it needs unity, organisation and a clear fighting strategy to win.

The City of Joburg has been ordered to pay the legal costs of all the applicants. This unfortunately means that residents of Johannesburg must pay, through their taxes, for the blunders of the African National Congress local government. It is high time to act to put an end to this abuse – WASP calls for all concerned street traders, residents and workers to put forward their own candidates under the WASP banner, first in next year’s general election and then in the coming local government elections. It is time to move from defending ourselves to taking the struggle forward. Phambili ngomzabalazo, phambili!

A media briefing will be held Friday December 6, 10h00 at the street traders’ office, Bree Taxi rank (corner Gwigwi Mrwebi and Sauer Streets, opposite the park).

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