Informal traders battle to keep bread on the table

Fadia Davids made these masks to sell to keep her afloat.

While some informal traders are breathing easy after Covid-19 lockdown regulations were relaxed, not everyone is happy.

The new regulations don’t apply to those selling cooked food, and they say their livelihoods are on the line as a result.

Shahieda Sonday has sold boerewors and steak rolls and seafood from her Gatesville CBD stall for some 15 years, but the last time she traded was on Saturday March 21, shortly before the lockdown took effect.

Hers was the only steady income in a family of five – it fed herself, her pensioner husband, her two children and her grandson, but now she is struggling and fears the possible extension of the lockdown will make life even more difficult.

“Traders are losing out on money; some are worse off than others,” she says.

“It is very difficult to provide for our families like this so I really hope that the lockdown is not extended.”

Fadia Davids, a Gatesville clothing trader for 20 years, is also battling.

She lives with six other people. Her son is also a trader and her daughter is a hairdresser, but they too can’t work during lockdown.

Ms Davids feels the City should allow all traders to trade or none at all.

“I used the money that I made the last time I traded and I bought things for the house, and so did my children. I have to go so slow with the money that I have left. I made masks and sold them for R10 to at least buy a bread and milk every day. People bought the masks, but now everyone has masks so there’s nothing to do now.”

Last Wednesday, mayoral committee member for urban management, Grant Twigg, said 934 permits had been issued to informal traders selling uncooked food, including fresh meat and fish, fruit and vegetables, and sweets and cold drinks.

But they can only trade from 8am to 5pm, they must wear a mask, gloves, and have sanitisers and water on hand. Their stalls must be a metre apart and customers must also stand a metre apart. Traders must carry their permits on them at all times.

Mr Twigg said those not allowed to trade, along with residents, should stay off the streets and comply with the lockdown rules.

“The City pleads with all informal food traders to co-operate and work together with us in fighting this pandemic. Informal traders are reminded to please take the necessary precautionary measures to improve hygiene conditions in an effort to reduce the spread of Covid-19.”