By Bernard Chiguvare for GroundUp

Residents are asking why market stalls built-in central Giyani in Mopani District, Limpopo, more than seven years ago were never allocated to hawkers.

Situated behind the Shoprite supermarket, the stalls were meant for the town’s hawkers. They are now overgrown with bushes. According to the hawkers this has become a place for criminal activities.

GroundUp saw several men hanging around the stalls and was warned by locals not to go near them and that muggings take place in that area.

Thembani Chauke, a community leader, says they would like to know why the municipality never allocated the stalls.

But Giyani municipality spokesperson Steven Mavunda said, “Due to its location, the market stalls are unattractive to the hawkers who prefer to trade at overcrowded places like the Giyani CBD taxi rank.”

“Ideally, the municipality wants to reduce overcrowding and promote cleanliness around town by confining hawkers to a controlled trading environment,” he said.

HAWKERS KEEN TO USE THE STALLS

However, hawkers say they do want to use the stalls. Jackson Mdaka has three makeshift stalls around town, selling vegetables, cosmetics and food. “I have been a hawker for more than ten years. When it rains there is no business … I would have loved to be at the constructed market stalls, but I wonder why the municipality is not allocating anyone these market stalls,” he said.

Mdaka said it would be better for him to have his three stalls under one roof. “As it is, I have to walk up and down several times to monitor what is going on at different stalls,” he said.

Another hawker, who did not wish to have her name published, said she was very happy when she saw the stalls being built and thought she would be allocated one.

Spokesperson Mavunda said Mayor Shibambu Basani had rolled out a programme identifying and registering all hawkers in the CBD in order to allocate the stalls, but progress had been hampered by lockdown. The process is now underway again, Mavunda said.

Mavunda said the municipality is not aware of any criminal activities taking place in that area.

GroundUp obtained the tender document number for the construction of the stalls and found that it was to close in October 2011, but could get no further information as to the cost and exact date of completed construction.