Vendors, council at each other’s throats

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By Kefiloe Kajane

Street vendors in Botha Bothe town are accusing the Urban Council of leaving them out in the cold as it parcels out prime land to alleged ‘favoured individuals’.

This is contained in a petition signed by 173 complainants this week, who allege that the council has corruptly sold off landmarks like Mokorotlong and the Old Market Area, which is now called BB Plaza.

They further demand that the council should not interfere with vendors without their committee.

The vendors also claim that public water tanks are not being thoroughly cleaned, want the town clerk and other government officials involved in corruption removed.

In response, the Botha Bothe Urban Council town clerk Thabiso Nchakha said people do not understand why the Mokorotlong was sold.

He said the council took the decision to move Mokorotlong to a better location because it was too old an unfit for human occupancy. 

He said the decision to sell the plot was above board and free of corruption, adding it only made business sense to sell it to a businessman occupying an adjacent plot.

“We noticed that the space is too small and if we sold it, it would not be profitable to the buyer. So the council invited three business owners who already owned spaces nearby, to pitch to the council what they will commit to do for the vendors in the vicinity. 

“In the end, we had one person who committed to build the vendors stalls at another space provided by the council. The space was not just sold to anyone as they claim. The person did not even give the council a cent in the form of inducement, so I do not know what they are talking about when with they claim corruption was involved.

“On the issue of the water, yes we admit it is dirty. It has been irresponsible of us that the tanks are not regularly cleaned, and that is a mistake we are already rectifying,’ Nchakha said.

He added that big shops are within their rights if they do not want vendors to operate on their doorstep because that is their space, which in some cases extends to the sidewalks.   

“These people should know better than to fight for things they know nothing about. They should be wary of signing petitions when they are in actual being used to fight other people’s personal battles.”

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