Informal meat traders in Khayelitsha ordered to stop trading

The Vuyani Meat Market in Khayelitsha on Tuesday after the traders were told to stop operating. All photos by Lilita Gcwabe

Informal meat traders at Embengweni in Khayelitsha were ordered to stop operating just three days after the ban on informal food sellers was lifted.

Law enforcement officers instructed informal traders who sell braaied meat in Town 2 in Khayelitsha to stop trading as they sell cooked food without having original permits. This comes after a ban on informal traders under the 21-day lockdown regulations was lifted by Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, on Thursday evening.

On Friday morning, the informal traders were back where they always sell meat and did so throughout the weekend. On Monday, the City of Cape Town released a statement that permits are to be granted to those who trade in uncooked food. According to a Basic Assessment Report by the provincial department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning done in August 2010, there were 40 meat traders operating from the 620-square metre Vuyani Meat Market, popularly known as Embengweni.

Speaking to Elitsha after they were told to stop trading by a law enforcement officer on Monday afternoon, Nongazi “Mangwanya” Tyaliti said she was disappointed since they had been allowed to do so for three days and had incurred losses due to the lockdown. “I’m not sure what are we supposed to do. But we will go to Khayelitsha Training Centre to get answers and perhaps get permits. Before the lockdown I had half a pig which costs R1,750, sausage of about R500, beef of about R1,000 and right now I have a whole pig that I bought and was planning to chop up and be braaied. All of that is going to go to waste because I can’t keep refrigerating all of that,” she said. Tyaliti said that she started trading the morning after she heard on the TV and radio news that the ban on informal traders had been lifted.

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Another trader, Bonelwa Gqalane, said that the trading area was vandalised, some time before the past weekend and after lockdown. “Someone broke in and vandalised the electric meter box and people who left the meat in the fridges found it spoiled,” she said. Her customers refer to her by her clan name, Mamsukwini. According to her fellow traders, all of them at Embengweni do not have original permits and some have been struggling to get permits since the 1990s.

The Khayelitsha Development Forum chairperson, Ndithini Tyhido, said that even though they welcome the change in regulations to allow informal trading, they are worried about the interpretation and implementation of the regulations by the City of Cape Town. “The problem is that the value in the informal meat trade is that the meat is braaied and if we take that away from them it means they will be competing with butcheries and people would rather go buy meat cheaply at the butchery,” he said.

Tyhido, however added that the City of Cape Town does not care about township businesses. “There are no ablution facilities at the Vuyani Meat Market and the informal meat traders have to employ their own security and because they were not trading the building was vandalised during lockdown,” he said.

Some meat traders were operating after the Vuyani Meat Market traders were told to close shop.

Another informal trader who sells fruit and vegetables near Embengweni was also asked to stop trading as he does not have an original permit. “Just before the lockdown I had a ton of vegetables and fruit that I bought and I had to throw that away and now we are told that we must stop trading. The value of the one ton of fruit and vegetables is about R5,000, so I lost all of that,” said Kholekile Yedwa.

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There were other informal meat traders who have not been asked to stop operating by the law enforcement. About five kilometres down the road in Makhaza other meat traders were operating as usual as well.

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