Crafters left crying

The removal of informal traders on Hilton Avenue on Monday left many Hilton residents upset.

The informal traders who are a familiar sight in the area near Crossways Hotel, were forcibly removed by municipal officials on Monday.

As news of the raid spread residents rallied to the defence of the traders.

Posting on a Hilton chat group on Facebook­, concerned residents pleaded with the Hilton community and councillors to come to the aid of traders, saying they were just making a living.

Hilton residents continued to post on the group pleading that the community help and stand together in getting the traders legal permits.

Ward 6 councillor Craig Miller told The Witness on Wednesday that he had sent the various complaints and reports he’d received from residents to the municipal manager.

These related to the fact that municipal officials had impounded goods and issued fines to people trading illegally at the intersection in terms of street trading bylaws.

Two displaced informal traders, Ngoni Green Katsande and Busisiwe Silver Ngubane (81), both from Sweetwaters, expressed their hurt at the removals.

Speaking to The Witness on Wednesday, a sobbing Ngubane said: “I am looking after four grandchildren who are orphans. I have been selling wood from this place since 2016, and Hilton residents have shown nothing but support towards my business. Now I don’t know what I will do.”

Katsande said he had been selling hand-crafted goods from the area since 2009 and made a good living for his family. “It is hurtful to be removed. This place has good opportunities for our businesses.

“We have also tried to apply for permits, but without success. We are told no one is allowed on this area. They are sending us to a designated area next to Kwikspar, where I used to be located before, before I had my crafts stolen. That place is not clean and not safe,” he said.

He said people used that area as a drinking place during the weekends. “They litter, and in turn, we are blamed for litter that isn’t ours,” he said.

Miller told The Witness he sympathised with people trying to earn a living, and would like to help.

“As a public representative I can only do that within the confines of the law, however. I have also engaged the Hilton Business Initiative to see how they can assist as well,” he said.

uMngeni’s general manager for economic development and planning, Steve Simpson, said that the illegal traders were served with non-compliance notices dating as far back as 2009 and 2012.

The traders chose to ignore these. He said their presence in the area was a violation of the bylaws.

The municipality therefore had no choice but to remove them.