“We are not taking South Africans’ jobs, and we work hard to make a living.” Street vendors in Tshwane echoed these sentiments in Marabastad, who recently fell victim to an attack by a group demanding that immigrants leave the country. Marabastad, located near Pretoria’s city centre, is home to many businesses, including clothing shops, internet cafes, and panel beaters. TimesLIVE reports that the area is also home to street vendors selling cooked food and goods.
On Monday, a group calling themselves concerned citizens gathered in the open square of Marabastad, initiating a weeklong protest against immigrants in the metro. Their targets were the local hawkers, who were peacefully conducting their businesses. However, residents quickly came to the defence of the traders, preventing further damage and violence.
Eugenia Tendai Pasipanodya, one of the affected vendors, shared her account of the incident, describing how the group went from stall to stall, destroying goods and merchandise. The attackers accused the street vendors of taking away job opportunities from South African citizens. However, Pasipanodya, who hails from Mutare in Zimbabwe, stressed that they were not stealing or harming anyone. She pointed out that many vendors are educated individuals simply trying to make a living and contribute to the local economy.
Despite their challenges, street vendors like Pasipanodya wake up early every morning to set up their stalls, bringing goods from their home countries and paying the necessary duties at the border. They operate with the municipality’s permission and contribute to the local economy by spending their earnings on accommodation, groceries, and other living expenses.
The incident in Marabastad highlights the plight of immigrant street vendors who face discrimination and prejudice while striving to provide for themselves and their families. These individuals often endure difficult circumstances in their home countries and come to South Africa for better opportunities. They play a vital role in the local economy.
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