Mkhululi Nonjola & Tasmi Quazi
Asiye eTafuleni hosted the 3rd Street Law Seminar on the 6th of July 2011. The Seminar was hosted in conjunction with the Office of the Public Protector and the Students for Law and Social Justice (SLSJ) at the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) eThekwini.
The seminar was based on areas of law that affect informal trade in Durban and the relevance of the Public Protector as an intermediary between ordinary people on the streets and the state, in resolving legal challenges they face on a daily basis. This 3rd Seminar was a repeat of the previous seminar’s topic, however, to a different audience of informal traders.
This seminar was unique in that the SLSJ did not present but were there to listen to some of the concerns and views of the informal traders. The main purpose of this open and interactive session was to for the students to investigate matters raised, and try to resolve them by working together with the informal traders and the relevant officials. Secondly, it was intended to shape the topics for the remaining street law seminars scheduled for later this year in making the topics more relevant to informal traders.
The SLSJ representatives were senior law students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal Law Faculty. The students included: Shaista Singh, Senamile Mahlangu, Allan Naidoo, Noxlolo Dlamini, Moosa Ncalane and Ntokozo Hlongwane. Mr Sipho Cishe, the representative from the Public Protector Office described the role and responsibilities of the Public Protector within the constitutional structure of the South African Democratic dispensation. He also described their capacities and processes of the Office.
There were a number of concerns raised by the informal traders ranging from the alleged racially discriminatory practices in the Bluff Bulk Market, and the confiscation of goods by Metro Police officials without issuing receipts as mandated by the eThekwini Municipality’s bylaws on informal trade. The SLSJ students undertook to investigate the legality of this and other questionable procedures used by the Metro Police around the confiscation of goods, including engaging the Head of Metro Police to intervene in this matter.
In conclusion, in light of the fact that this was the third seminar in the series and which was a repetition of the previous topics, it was evident that the traders in attendance were informed and knowledgeable on the covered topics. The majority of traders appreciated the continued presence of institutions such as the Public Protector and the Human Rights Commission, as they have brought meaningful interaction that has enabled them to become more knowledgeable about law. To them, this shows the foregone conclusion of the potential recognition of the informal sector and the fact that some institutions within the state are beginning to take the sector more seriously.
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