Trader slams City for tearing down stall

The stall before it was torn down.

An informal trader opposite Vangate Mall has slammed City law enforcement for demolishing her fruit-and-veg stall.

Nadia Dreyer says she received her permit to trade opposite the mall last year, and it didn’t prohibit her from building a shelter for her business so she put up a 6m x 3m stall with aluminium doors, roof sheeting, and security gates. Then in August Metro police sent her a notice to remove it.

According to her, she emailed an appeal to the City of Cape Town and an employee told her someone would come out to examine her stall but no one did.

When she received another notice on October 8 to remove the stall she told the officers she was awaiting the outcome of her appeal.

On Tuesday March 17, she says, she again emailed the City and law enforcement to finalise the matter.

Two days later, she says, she went to the City’s legal department at the Civic Centre in Cape Town, showed them all her emails and asked for advice but she got none.

On Monday April 20 she received a Covid-19 permit to start trading again.

On Wednesday May 27, a law enforcement officer issued her with a R1 500 fine which she says she chose to appeal in court.

But on Wednesday June 24 law enforcement officers tore down the stall.

“Metro police also rocked up, blocking the road from both ends. Some police paraded in the streets with long guns in their hands, it was an extremely traumatising and emotional experience as the whole community was standing by to watch this. Most of them were extremely upset that this woman whom they all supported, was being victimised by the police.”

Ms Dreyer says she, like many others in these tough economic times, is just trying to make ends meet and she accused the police of abusing their power. “We have had great support from our communities and people in the public to take this matter further because, not only has the City put me out of business, but has left me emotionally scarred and traumatised.”

Law enforcement spokesman Wayne Dyason said the site where Ms Dreyer had her stall was not zoned for informal trading and the structure was illegal because it was of a permanent nature.

“There have been a number of complaints against this structure by people in the neighbourhood. The alleged offender was given numerous warnings to comply. The entire structure is illegal.”

However, Ms Dreyer says the law enforcement officers were unnecessarily heavy-handed.

“Pulling up there with no notice, with so many police vehicles, no prior warning that you’re coming to take down the structure on that day. Then tearing it down as if it has no value to anyone. We invested so much of our money into making the stall look presentable for our customers. There were only three neighbours as far as we know who were complaining about the stall, none of which were substantial.

“There is another fruit stand structure approximately 30m from ours which has been there for many years. However, nothing is said or done to those vendors. So is the City selective in enforcing their by-laws?”