Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has until 09:00 o’clock Monday morning to lift the ban on the sale of prepared, warm and cooked food or face legal action. Piet le Roux CEO of business group, Sakeliga, says prohibiting the manufacturing and selling of such goods is unlawful.

In the video below, Minister Patel says the larger part of the economy will be closed during the lockdown:

Le Roux says the move merely serves to intimidate informal traders and small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as to decrease food supply, and increase prices.

Given how many businesses and NGOs have ground to a halt during the nationwide lockdown, Sakeliga is offering to subsidise the personalised legal opinions for “essential service” providers.

DA enters the fray

The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is seeking legal opinion on Minister’s decision to ban the sale of cooked food.

The opposition party has given Patel until 5pm on Sunday to explain the rationale behind the decision.

“In the amended lockdown regulations, there is nothing that prohibits the production or sale of cooked food and thus the Democratic Alliance (DA) believes that the Minister has overstepped his powers by simply pronouncing that retailers may not sell cooked or prepared food,” the party says in a statement.

“This absurd determination by Minister Patel is illogical and ill-considered. It follows a pattern of late by certain Ministers which seek to de-legitimise the lockdown by advancing regulations that make no sense and are not found in law,” it adds.

Informal traders decry struggling sales

Informal traders in Johannesburg say while they welcome being allowed to trade, they are struggling with very poor sales because of the lockdown. City of Johannesburg Spokesperson Nthatisi Modingoane says all 1 600 informal traders who have been granted permits to trade within the city must have protective clothing and adhere to COVID-19 regulations.

“Yes, they have been given specifications in terms of making sure that the one meter radius in terms of social distancing is observed. There are issues around hygiene and cleanliness in their stalls. Issues of making sure that there are sanitizers and protective gear around there if they have to engage closely with customers. So, there are those regulations being monitored by our officers to make sure there’s compliance.”

In the video below, government allows informal traders to operate during lockdown provided that they have permits: