On 6 December 2022, the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), the South African Informal Traders Forum (SAITF) and the Southern African Human Rights Defenders Network (Southern Defenders) launched a new guide for street traders in eThekwini entitled “Street Trade in eThekwini: Your Rights” in Durban. The guide, developed in close consultation with street traders operating in eThekwini, explains the rights of informal traders and the laws and policies that protect them, and gives informal traders practical advice on how to engage with the eThekwini Municipality and its officials. The launch was attended by 50 people, the vast majority of whom were traders from different organisations across Durban.
SERI researcher, Kelebogile Khunou, SAITF’s Verushka Memdutt and Southern Defender’s Simphiwe Sidu welcomed the attendees to the event, providing the background of the development of the guide which involved the three organisations. Kelebogile then outlined the contents of the guide. The rest of the event was a panel discussion facilitated by SERI senior attorney, Khululiwe Bhengu. On the panel was Brian Phaaloh (secretary general SAITF), Patrick Ndlovu (Asiye eTafuleni, co-founder) and Dr. Mimi Ndokweni (Business Support Unit, eThekwini Municipality).
Brian provided insights from the perspective of traders and highlighted the challenges traders in eThekwini experience which include harassment by law enforcement and issues regarding the permitting system. Patrick from Asiye eTafuleni, a non-profit organisation which focuses on promoting and developing good practice and process around inclusive urban planning & design, shared the experience of the organisation in supporting informal traders, emphasising the fact that traders who know their rights in relation to the regulatory framework are often targeted and penalised by law enforcement. Dr. Ndokweni spoke about the municipality’s plans to further support traders in eThekwini, acknowledging the challenges encountered thus far. The panel inputs were followed by audience discussion. In conclusion, Khululiwe underscored the need for increased collaboration between the trader organisations which exist across the municipality, as well as the need for ongoing engagement between the municipality and trader organisations.