SERI notes with concern the sustained crack-down on informal traders that has taken place since 10 October under the auspices of a "clean up" initiative of the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg. Since this date, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD), in conjunction with officials from the South African Revenue Services (SARS), have conducted raids in the inner city. During these operations, officials forced thousands of informal traders to vacate their trading posts and prevented them from trading by threatening them, demolishing their stalls, confiscating and impounding goods (without following legally prescribed procedures such as setting up inventories of goods confiscated) and physically assaulting informal traders (including reports of informal traders being beaten with sticks and whipped).
The operation underway is in no way a "clean up" of the inner city and does not comply with the City's existing economic, spatial or urban management policies or by-laws. The City has regularly indicated that it recognises informal trade as a key economic activity which creates livelihood opportunities.