Thousands of Johannesburg street hawkers have been rendered jobless after being evicted from the city's sidewalks in a cleanup operation by the metropolitan police department aimed at ridding the city of illegal traders.
"I cannot support my family any more. We are currently starving, because I'm off the streets," Rose Lerato, a mother of three who used to earn a living selling fruits and vegetables on a Johannesburg street corner, told Anadolu Agency.
She accused the metropolitan police of confiscating her wares before chasing her off the street.
"How does the government expect us to survive when there are no jobs in the country?" Lerato fumed. "I don't want to engage in prostitution."
"All I want is my trading space on the pavement," she added.
Complaining of rising criminal activity and traffic congestion, Johannesburg municipal authorities began evicting street vendors in mid-October.
"There have been many illegal traders in the city, creating unnecessary congestion and crime," Johannesburg city spokesman Nthatisi Modingoane told AA.
He said the city had informed the heads of a local informal traders association of its plan to evict street hawkers and then verify who was trading legally.
"We have started verifying the street hawkers," Modingoane asserted. "Those with legitimate permits will be allowed to return to the streets."
He added that street vendors who would be allowed back would operate in an organized and orderly manner.
Over 5,000 street vendors are said to have been affected by the cleanup campaign.
Johannesburg, South Africa's economic capital, has attracted hundreds of thousands of migrants from outlying provinces and neighboring countries.
Prior to the eviction of the street hawkers, pedestrians walking the streets of Johannesburg had faced considerable difficulties as a result of the traffic congestion caused by the vendors.
"I'm happy the streets are now clean," one Johannesburg pedestrian told AA. "I'm no longer afraid that my phone will be snatched during rush hour."
He asserted that street hawkers used to connive with criminals, who would terrorize passersby.
"The criminals would pickpocket pedestrians and give the stolen items to the hawkers to sell," he said.
Johannesburg suffers from chronic unemployment, crime and poverty.
The eviction of street hawkers, meanwhile, has adversely affected many families.
"For the past five years, I have been supporting my family by selling sweets and cigarettes on the street," a visibly upset Eric Mazibuko, an unemployed hawker who originally hails from Zimbabwe, told AA.
"Now I have been evicted. Where do they expect me to go?" he asked.
Mazibuko said the move would likely force some unemployed hawkers to turn to crime.
"We used to earn an honest living by selling on the street," he lamented.
"But since we're unemployed now, some of our colleagues might resort to crime."
AALast Mod: 06 Kasım 2013, 17:49