Life is tough for these Strand Square traders trying to make a living in Cape Town. Their story may ring with familiarity to traders across South Africa:
For 22 years, they have been trading in the municipal parking lot next to Strand Square Shopping Centre. That’s was initially with permission from the Strand Municipality and, later, with the permission of the City of Cape Town (CoCT).
In 2015, the CoCT decided to relocate 140 beach traders to Strand Square whilst the sea wall was being rebuilt. This was done without consulting FPG, the owner’s of Strand Square, their tenants, or surrounding businesses and residents.
The 12 Strand Square traders and the beach traders were also not consulted.
The move to the Strand Square municipal parking lot created a parking problem which led to Pick ‘n Pay putting FPG in breach of contract.
FPG successfully applied, through High Court, for the urgent removal of the beach traders.
The City of Cape Town (CoCT) was forced to relocate the beach traders back to the seafront.
FPG then discovered that they had a long-forgotten servitude on the parking lot that said it could only be used for free parking for a maximum of two hours. That agreement was reached between the old, now defunct, Strand Municipality, and the developers of the shopping centre.
FPG decided that they did not want the 12 Strand Square traders anymore and had them served with papers as well.
This #strandsquaredisaster was the result of the DA-run CoCT failing to engage in a public participation process. Now the Strand Square traders must pay the price.
If CoCT had initially consulted with the beach traders, the latter would have shown a practical plan for them to stay on the seafront whilst the sea wall was rebuilt. In the end, after all the upheaval, the CoCT was forced to adopt that plan anyway.
The long lost servitude status would have stayed lost and the Strand Square traders would have been safe.
A letter from one of the traders to local DA councillors and to CoCT officials explained why relocating the beach traders to Strand Square was nonviable. His email, and the subsequent meeting with CoCT, weren’t taken seriously.
This is considered, by some, to be typical of how the CoCT engages with concerned parties.
DA politician’s blamed the CoCT administration. The Administration blamed the politicians. Caught in the middle were the 12 Strand Square traders.
The case, in two parts, started this month in High Court, FPG versus the CoCT and the traders. Already, three traders have been served evictions.
Thanks to the CoCT, the ratepayer will sit with the legal bill.
And the Strand Square traders will be screwed.
This info adopted and edited from a letter by Adrian Engelbrecht, a Strand Square trader.
Portrait photos, photos that tell a story, Dawid van der Merwe.