Tafadzwa Chakachaka, who sells cheese and yoghurt, said, “No one buys our wares when the two modes of transport are not working.” The handful of people who are using buses do not loiter but “rush past our stands without buying,” she said.
She said she is also scared, but “we have no other source of income”.
“When the taxi drivers shoot at each other, we lie on the ground next to our stock. Our stock will be stolen and we will get caught in the ensuing stampede if we run.”
The violence has also affected the vendors trying to transport their goods for selling. “I can’t load all my wares in a bus when I travel back home in the evenings, but I can do so in a taxi,” she said.
The taxis would drop her near her home. But now, she says, “I have to hire youngsters to take my wares with a trolley to my place after I get off the bus.”
She supports two children and pays R3,500 to rent a RDP house in Khayelitsha. She is feeling the pinch. “I used to eat nice takeaways, but now I have to cook at home and bring my food here to eat as I can no longer afford them.”
Madiba Kanana, who sells sweets, peanuts, chips and cook drinks, said, “I’m starving because I can’t make money anymore.”
He said he was doing a roaring trade before the taxi violence. “My cool drink stock used to run out several times in one day … but now I get stuck with my stock the whole day,” he said. “I can’t send money to my parents under the present circumstances. Now I sell just so that I can buy food.”
Kanana said he and other small traders set out at 5am from Wallacedene, where he rents a backyard shack, to walk two hours to the Bellville rank.
Ali Dop, who sells leather bags, masks and clothes near the Shoprite, said he used to make about R400 per day, but some days he can’t make even R100 now.
“I must pay the trolley man R10 to bring my wares to my stand and another R10 to take them back to the storeroom. Now, I don’t even have money to pay them … I continue to wait for customers in the hope that I may get R20 or R50 to buy sugar and milk,” he said.
A leader of the Bellville African Traders Organisation who did not want to be named, said, “Traders are really crying. They are scared of being shot, but a few continue to sell their goods because of their financial needs.”
Rosheda Muller, president of South African Traders Alliance, said violence has “caused havoc among the small traders”.
“As we are talking, our people are suffering as they cannot earn a living,” she said. “We call upon the taxi drivers to settle their differences in the interest of the vulnerable informal traders.”
Article originally published on GroundUp.
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