More than 2 000 temporary permits issued to informal traders for the lockdown have been digitised with unique numbers for each region and entrepreneur to avoid fraudulent activity.
According to the City’s Department of Economic Development, of the over 3 500 permits issued in April, about 700 were dished out to spaza-shops.
The temporary permits enable holders to transact business freely during the lockdown, which prohibits public movement to flatten the curve of the infectious Covid-19 pandemic.
Lockdown regulations only allow wholesale produce markets and informal traders selling perishables to trade as providers of essential services, on condition they obtain a permit from their local municipality.
The permits were issued at opportunity centres across all corners of Johannesburg. The MMC for Economic Development, Councillor Lloyd Phillips says centre managers are the only signatories for the informal trader permits and have included a unique code next to their signature. No other municipal official is authorised to issue permits.
Phillips encourages traders to observe social distancing measures at all times to avoid contracting or spreading the virus. “We humbly plead with traders to protect themselves [at all times] by wearing masks or scarfs to avoid cross-contamination. Stay safe and don’t forget to Hlapa Matsoho (wash your hands),” the MMC says.
The City has just completed the second phase of issuing permits to informal traders and notes that those circulated earlier in the month are still valid until after the nationwide lockdown. The City was forced to halt the application process earlier in the month after issuing 1 552 permits because of a near-stampede, which violated lockdown regulations for social distancing, threatening the safety of municipal officials and permit seekers.
The municipality had to implement stricter security measures to handle the oversubscription of permits, including the deployment of additional security personnel to complement JMPD officers and their South African Police Service counterparts.
Last week two men were arrested for allegedly selling and buying illegal informal trader permits in Protea Glen, Soweto. The suspects have been charged with fraud and contravening the Disaster Management Act, which regulates activities during the lockdown in a bid to manage Covid-19 infections.
South Africa is currently under a level-5 nationwide lockdown, designed as an infection control measure to track, contain, and manage the Covid-19 pandemic.
Written by Takalani Sioga