Ekurhuleni informal traders live in fear amid threats on their lives

The City of Ekurhuleni MMC for Community Safety, Sizakele Masuku, has called on the metro police to deal with threats of violence directed at spaza shop owners in townships. 
Masuku gave the directive to the Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Police Department (EMPD) following a brief visit to a spaza shop owner, Thulani Khumalo, on Tuesday. This after Khumalo allegedly received life-threatening messages from other traders suspected to be foreign nationals.
Khumalo claims he has been receiving threats from unknown people telling him to close down his shop “or else his life would be in danger”.

One trader was shot by unknown assailants
Last week, one of Khumalo’s friends was shot by unknown gunmen as he was leaving his shop. 
Khumalo said he and his family are now living in fear. This after suspicious armed characters in different cars come to his home and shop looking for him. Masuku condemned the threats, emphasising that South Africa promotes free trade. She said everyone entering the space must be allowed to do business and have a fair shot at the market. 

“We cannot sit back and allow these threats as a municipality. The EMPD must act swiftly and ensure that those behind this are locked up,” Masuku said.

Masuku said precautionary measures will be taken to protect Khumalo and his family.

Informal traders create jobs, help alleviate poverty

Statistics South Africa’s non-agricultural labour force data showed that 4.5 million people are in informal employment. A total of 1.3 million work as domestic workers, and 2.8 million in the informal sector. Informal sector data shows that it is largely constituted by own account workers – street and spaza shop traders, taxi drivers, construction workers, educare providers, waste recyclers, tailors, shoe repairers, bush mechanics, among others.

Recent research also shows informal employments’ significant contribution to poverty alleviation. While individual incomes are often low, cumulatively, these activities contribute significantly to gross domestic product (GDP). Stats SA estimated the informal sector contributed 6% of GDP (Stats SA, 2014).

This work is connected into the formal economy in a myriad of ways – either purchasing from, supplying into or being the last mile distribution for, the formal sector. This is while informally employed domestic and care workers allow others to work. Any policy intervention needs to be critically informed by these interconnections.

  •  SAnews.gov.za

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