Traders return to Grand Parade

Requirements for the return to trade include physical distancing of two meters between traders and 1.5 meters between customers. PICTURES: KAREN WATKINS

Informal traders are happy to be back selling their wares on the Grand Parade.

The court ruled in favour of the traders after the City’s earlier decision to prohibit them from operating when the national state of disaster and lockdown were announced.

The City of Cape Town said in a statement that it welcomed the agreement granted in a court order on Friday May 29. This has brought the clarity needed from national government to allow the Grand Parade traders to operate during lockdown.

“The City and the Grand Parade informal traders settled that the informal traders were not defined as a ‘flea market’ and were therefore allowed to trade,” said Thabo Ramphobole, spokesman for the Legal Resources Centre (LRC) which represented the traders.

Geoffrey Phiri, who sells arts and crafts, described his feelings about being back as “medium happy”.

“God is good. It’s a miracle that we are back,” he said.

They were supposed to be back on Saturday (May 30) but had to submit a Covid-19 plan to trade to the City of Cape Town, from whom they rent the stalls.

According to a City media release, requirements include trading within a designated area, cleaning of the designated area before and after trading, providing hand sanitiser and face masks, trading from 6am to 6pm, maintaining physical distancing of two meters between traders and 1.5 meters between customers plus signage and a roster of traders and ensuring that requirements are strictly adhered to.

Sanga Loveline, who sells socks and other clothing, said it was “100% better” to be trading again.

She has lived in the country for 10 years and is originally from Cameroon but as a foreigner, she said, she was not eligible for food parcels. “It’s hard getting up at 4am in the dark and cold and setting up the stand for a few customers,” she told the CapeTowner.

Ms Loveline lives in Salt River where she was expected to continue paying her rent throughout lockdown – despite not being able to trade .

Mr Phiri lives in Khayelitsha, where, he said, people did not take the coronavirus seriously and lockdown regulations were not enforced as strictly as they were in the city. In addition to this, he said, transport was “a nightmare”.

He said it has been tough living in lockdown, he said, adding that some traders were staying in backpackers and could not pay their rent or afford to buy food.And now customers are afraid of contracting the virus from the traders or their goods. “But we’ve been in lockdown for 70 days,” he said, “and goods have been in quarantine. And the traders are scared of getting the virus from shoppers.

“We can’t see who has the virus and who could be carrying it, he said.

Asked about tourism, Mr Phiri said the few tourists who were still here because they hadn’t been able to get home, were struggling financially.

“So we can’t expect business from them, they also need help,” he said.