The Guard

The Truth On Board


By Masilo Malakwane

QwaQwa – Disgruntled hawkers at the Setsing Plaza shopping complex in QwaQwa brought business to a standstill on Tuesday, barring access to all shops at Setsing shopping center and Maluti Crescent mall.

The informal traders accuse municipality for not involving them in a multimillion-rand development project meant to revamp Setsing Plaza.

The hawkers demand to be part of the planned project and have resisted attempts to get them to vacate the centre since February this year.

While movement on the road was not impeded, the hawkers intensified their protest on Tuesday this week, targeting shoppers in the process; people going to work had to wait outside the gates while others were turned back as the hawkers marched up and down in the complex and outside Maluti Crescent mall.

They sang songs and taunted at police who were monitoring the situation in an armoured personnel vehicle.

The mall development project has been delayed due to negotiations that broke down between the two parties and many thoughts by now the project should’ve been underway by now.

One of the hawkers said: “We are not here to vandalize any property but to show our dissatisfaction. Hawkers did not get jobs nor stalls when construction work of Maluti Crescent Mall was happening. We tried to engage the municipality, but meetings were fruitless. We now want to get the attention of the executive mayor Masetjhaba Lakaje Mosia’s or we will continue shutting down all shops at this complex and the mall.”

Hawkers blocking entrance at Maluti Crescent Mall.

The chairperson of the hawkers’ committee, Motlatsi Rapetswa, had this to say: “To our surprise, the municipality has agreed to assist only 40 of our members; what about the rest? We also want to be empowered in this project since some of us have been trading here for more than a decade.”

Rapetswa said they had petitioned the municipality but did not get a satisfactory response, hence the decision to call all hawkers to shut down the entire Setsing complex and mall indefinitely.

The Member of the Mayoral Committee for Local Economic Development in Maluti-a- Phofung municipality, Sonti Mlangeni Ramathesele, said the project developer has agreed to provide 36 hawkers with conducive paid stalls and a few rented shops for them inside the mall, as a token of community empowerment.

However, she condemned the shutdown of the Centre. “Shutting down the Centre is totally uncalled for, and we apologize to the entire community of Maluti-a-Phofung for any inconvenience caused.”

This publication has learned that a meeting that was supposed to held on Thursday between the hawkers’ committee, steering commit, land lord and Centre management to find a way forward was postponed.

In a statement, the municipality regretted the interruption of that occurred, and accused hawkers of jumping the gun while negotiations were still underway.

“The proposed improvements are not intended to evict the hawkers in the central business development (CBD). This is a private development which is being facilitated by the municipality through the Department of Local Economic Development, as part of its strategic objective to attract investment to Maluti-a-Phofung,” municipal communications’ manager Thabo Kessah said.

Kessah disclosed that there are ongoing talks between the hawkers, developers, and the municipality to discuss issues that directly affect the hawkers.