15 March 2017

South Africa: Khayelitsha Informal Market Without Electricity for Months

Khayelitsha small traders at Nonqubela Informal Market, outside Nonqubela train station, say they haven't had access to electricity since May 2016, when the electricity box was raided by criminals.

The small traders sell meat to train and taxi commuters, passers-by, shoppers and hawkers.

Trader Nolubabalo Jacob said, "We used to keep our meat in our fridges and cut pieces straight from the fridge when a customer wanted to buy." Now, she said, traders had to buy blocks of ice and it was eating up their profits.

She said without electricity their hours of business were also shortened. "We now have to close business early, because customers can't eat in the dark."

Nosandile Kalashe said she lost half her meat every day because she no longer had refrigeration. "I sell only half of my meat here, the other half goes to the dustbin because it is off."

"My house is far from here, so I can't move back and forth between my stand and my house to collect frozen meat from the fridge," she said.

Sandiswa Panda said her meat turned brown and attracted flies, putting customers off.

"We used to sell fresh and delicious meat when we had access to electricity and make lots of profit, but now we just sell to get by," she said.

Panda said the manager of the market, Themba Damba, to report it to the City of Cape Town.

Damba said, "I informed the maintenance department officials about the damaged boxes last year. Afterwards, I came along with them to check the box ... The maintenance department takes long to do things."

Panda also said, "City officials came here to look into the box and said it was damaged beyond repair."

Councillor Ando Nstodo, Mayoral Committee Member for Area East, said on 10 March, "The informal trading facility in Khayelitsha, Nonqubela Informal Markets, was vandalised. However, the incident was not reported to the City's district facility manager. The City have initiated the process for urgent repairs to be done."

Nstodo said, "The City can only address such issues timeously if these issues are brought to our attention. The City requests the Nonqubela informal traders to assist the City to prevent this situation from happening again."

At the time of publication, although city officials had visited the site, electricity had not been restored.

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