The City of Johannesburg has suspended the issuing of permit process for informal traders.

The city started issuing temporary permits for traders on Monday. However, a decision to suspend the process was taken on Tuesday after a large crowd descended on the offices of the Economic Development Department in the CBD compromising the safety and social distancing lockdown regulation.

“The process was to take place until Wednesday the 08th of April 2020. It is however unfortunate that the team from economic development at 66 Jorissen started experiencing major challenges today, where a large crowd descended to the venue compromising safety and social distancing. Informal traders from various areas in the city of Johannesburg and some from outside of the city’s jurisdiction queued and expected to get accreditation and permits to operate. This led to the city taking a decision to temporarily suspend the process of issuing the permits until further notice,” says Member of the Mayoral Committee for Economic Development, Lloyd Phillips.

In the video below, Ivory Park hawkers continue to work without permits:

Essential work permit abuse

Johannesburg Mayor Geoff Makhubo says people are abusing permits during the lockdown.

Essential workers have been granted permits to be able to move around during the 21-day lockdown.

However, Makhubo says some people who are not essential workers have obtained permits online.

He was conducting an oversight visit at the Rex Clinic in Roodepoort, which has been earmarked as a COVID-19 screening and testing site.

Makhubo says, “It’s a massive problem for those who don’t have permits, especially in informal settlements and townships and inner-cities. Two, we see lots and lots of permits around, some of them I don’t even think they’re essential workers because they apply through some portal and they get a permit from CIPC (Companies and Intellectual Property Commission). So we’ve raised the issue with the national command centre and we hope that the issue of permits will be looked at because we need to limit the number of permits only to essential workers.”

In the video below, the City of Cape Town has begun the process of issuing permits to informal traders:

Call for financial assistance

A group of organisations representing informal traders has called on government to provide relief and financial assistance to workers during the lockdown period.

The grouping also includes domestic workers, farmworkers and sex workers.

Inequality Lead’s Dr Basani Baloyi says they have written to President Cyril Ramaphosa and have drawn up a petition.

She says they’ve also launched a digital campaign.

“Most of them work on the basis of a no work no pay and we are saying that government has really overlooked them in terms of constricting the lockdown. And what we are calling for is some kind of relief, financial relief that goes to them. That’s not only for business but also for informal and domestic workers.”

In the video below, Vera Valasis speaks about how small businesses will be affected by the COVID-19 lockdown:

Small Business Development Minister Khumbudzo Ntshavheni says her department has received over 2 000 applications from small businesses for financial relief since the launch of the system.

Ntshavheni says 81 000 Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises have registered on her department’s database for assistance during the lockdown period, which has serious implications on small businesses.

The Department of Small Business Development has recorded a total of 81 000 SMMEs who have registered on the database since the opening of the registration. However, this does not translate into an application for funding.

The video below, shows COVID-19 in numbers:

Below is an infographic on how to protect yourself from coronavirus:

Additional reporting by Lebo Keswa