Meat vendors suffer

Many trade areas in the Vuyani Meat Market in Town Two, experienced fewer customers than usual as the coronavirus threat continues to rise. Anelisiwe Mabandla, left and Bonelwa Gqalane bemoan the situation they find themselves in.

Nothing but hunger and poverty.

This was the response of a meat vendor when Vukani asked her what the lockdown had meant for her.

Bonelwa Gqalane is one of many Khayelitsha meat vendors who have lost their livelihood due to lockdown restrictions which prohibit the sale of cooked food.

The easing of restrictions to Level 4 at the beginning of the month meant that restaurants and eateries could have their hot cooked meals delivered to customers’ homes. But for the vendors this is not an option.

Now, the once bustling Vuyani Meat Market in Town Two, Khayelitsha, is a ghost town.

Desperate to make a living, some vendors are braaiing their meat elsewhere and bringing it to the market to sell illegally.

The angry Ms Gqalane, lashed out at the City of Cape Town. “It is ridiculous for the City to tell us to sell raw meat while our customers have that in their houses. No one would leave his or her raw meat at home and go buy more raw meat elsewhere,” she told Vukani last Thursday.

Another trader, Nolungile Rhaziya, said some of them had heeded the government’s call to sell raw meat but it was not working out for them.

While she understood that the aim was to help curb the spread of coronavirus, she said, it was depriving many traders of an income, and the ability to feed their families.

“We have young people that we have hired here. We have been forced to chuck them away now because we cannot pay them. The reason is simple, we are not making money. We also go home empty-handed,” she said.

“The government needs to revise this. We will die of hunger. What would be the difference, dying of corona or hunger? Something must be done for us.She said the traders were taking precautions to help curb the spread of the virus by cleaning their areas and adhering to some of the regulations. “We have been cleaning our utensils and our customers were always encouraged to clean their hands.

“Why must we die of hunger when we can do something for our own living? We plead to the government to allow us to sell what we have been selling,” she said.

Vukani visited areas like Langa, Mfuleni, and Nyanga where other meat vendors were continuing to sell braaied meat to their customers.

Mayco member for urban management Grant Twigg said between 15 and 20 traders at the Vuyani Meat Market area had been issued with permits which were in line with the level 5 lockdown restrictions and were operating daily.

“The Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs published new regulations on April 29, in line with the national government’s response to level 4.

“The new regulations increased the commodities that can be sold during this level by various sectors. This includes the sale of hot cooked food, only for home delivery. They are also allowed to sell uncooked meat and uncooked fish, fruit and vegetables, sweets, chips and cool drinks,” he explained.

However, he said, the City was waiting for the Small Business Regulations which would govern the operations of spaza shops and informal traders under level 4 to be gazetted.

“This will determine the way forward with these businesses. In summary, the City is unable to issue permits to traders braaiing and selling cooked meat under level 4,” said Mr Twigg.

Law Enforcement spokesperson Wayne Dyason reiterated that Covid-19 lockdown regulations dictated that no trader may sell hot food directly to the public and they were stopped from doing so in these areas by the relevant enforcement agencies. He said the regulations were applied consistently and if transgressions took place, they happened when enforcement officers were not in the area.