• The City of Cape Town persists in its efforts to remove longstanding traders from the historic Salt River Market. Recently, it lodged an urgent court petition targeting the remaining tenants who have declined relocation.

    According to the Daily Voice, this move followed the City’s notification to traders about the site’s intended use for social housing. Once a bustling hub where locals not only sold goods but also exchanged cultural insights with visitors, the market’s vibrancy has dwindled over the years.

    Presently, merely four stalls stand at the once-thriving Salt River Market. Igshaan Higgins, an activist lawyer, laments that the court-ordered eviction could have been prevented had the City honoured its commitment to explore suitable relocation options for the traders.

    He emphasised, ‘Unfortunately, the City opted for an urgent High Court application against financially-disadvantaged traders who are unable to adequately defend themselves. These traders now face the burden of covering the City’s legal costs, regardless of their decision to contest the matter.

    ‘Many of these individuals have operated businesses at the Salt River Market for over half a century, with their staff now facing unemployment. It is my hope that the city will keep its expensive and overzealous lawyers at bay while trying to find an amicable solution through negotiation and/or mediation.’

    Carl Pophaim, the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements, highlights the accelerated release of inner-city land for affordable housing. Among various municipal-owned properties released to social housing developers, Salt River Market is significant, with a yield of over 3 500 units.

    Pophaim states, ‘In line with our agenda to build a City of Hope by enabling much more social housing in well-located areas, the Salt River Market development will include 300 social housing units. It will also include a public square, alongside a community hall, anchor retail shops, and convenience retail that will create many opportunities for small businesses. The development proposal pays special attention to the historical context of this site.’

    He assures that the development plans accommodate the remaining four historical fresh produce sellers already based at Salt River Market, resulting from extensive engagements with all traders on the site, with most agreeing to relocate voluntarily. Construction was slated to commence in July 2024.

    However, Pophaim notes, ‘This is, however, being delayed by only four remaining traders who have, since 2019, been earning an income by trading illegally on the site without a lease agreement at Salt River Market and who do not trade in fresh produce or associated goods.’

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    Article was originally written and published by Aiden Daries for Cape {town} etc.

    Picture: ER Lombard / Gallo Images