| PIETERMARITZBURG

Street vendors’ stalls vandalised

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Built in 2014, the stalls have never been used by traders

Photo of vandalised building
The stalls built for street traders in Imbali in Pietermaritzburg have been vandalised and have become “a drug nest”, says the local councillor. Photo: Nompendulo Ngubane
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Stalls for street vendors in Imbali in Pietermaritzburg have been vandalised and are used as a place to drink and use drugs, says the local councillor.

The stalls, in Imbali Unit 3, were part of a 2014 project but have never been occupied. All ten rooms have been damaged, and the aluminium doors and windows and some of the piping stolen. The floors are littered with empty bottles of liquor and packets of condoms.

Ward councillor Xolani Ngongoma said some of the vendors had already signed a lease agreement but delays had exposed the place to vandalism. “It is very sad to see development collapsing in that manner. The place has become a drug nest.”

Squ Mawala, the owner of Amawala Construction, which is responsible for fixing the stalls, said he had fixed the damage twice already.

“The first time fixing the place, including the roof and plumbing, was R150,000. The placed was vandalized again. We fixed it for the second time for R250,000. The place has been vandalised again,” he said.

Mawala said he had deployed security guards, but they had been attacked.

“The other issue is that there are no street lights in Thwala Road. People had easy access at night to attack security guards. They are now using the place for smoking whoonga,” said Mawala.

Thando Khoza, who lives in the area, says learners from nearby schools come to the premises to smoke and drink alcohol.

“Go inside there, there are beer bottles and cigarette butts. They smoke whoonga and do anything they want,” he said.

Ngongoma said he had held meetings with the municipality and the premises would be fixed.

Msunduzi municipality spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha also said the municipality was drawing up a plan and expected the stalls to be repaired and functioning by the beginning of next year.

“The contractor is aware of the vandalism on site and has committed to rectify and complete the works as specified in the contract at their own cost. The Msunduzi municipality has a plan in terms of the provision of security once the project has been handed back to the municipality by the contractor,” she said.

Mafumbatha said most of the stalls would be allocated to vendors who had been trading in the area for years.

But one of the street vendors, Jabu Hlongwa, who sells snacks outside Imbalenhle Clinic opposite the premises, said she had lost hope.

She said the traders had looked forward to having shelter from the sun and the rain. “It’s been years and we have given up. It is heart breaking. We see the place collapsing in front of our eyes,” said Hlongwa.

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TOPICS:  Government

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