Traders’ livelihoods still hang in the balance

Thumbs up for the Stables Lifestyle Market: Nagesh Polton and Shane Singh say the market is an asset to Durban.

ALMOST two years after being handed eviction notices, stallholders at the Stables Lifestyle Market say they are still anxious and uncertain about what the future holds. Land managers, Glen Eden Trading 31 were given notice to evict the premises to make way for the establishment of a football academy.

On Sunday, Berea Mail spoke to traders at the market to find out what progress has been made since the eviction was challenged and the matter went to court.

Shane Singh, who has run a stall at the market for the past 15 years, said he was in a bad space.

“We don’t know whether we should buy stock or even whether we should continue with our businesses. We are on edge and there is no stability. It is affecting our businesses,” he said.

Singh said if they were told to go, they would have to, but he felt traders should be compensated.

READ RELATED: Stallholders concerned over future of Stables market

“This market is a landmark, it is an outing for families, a meeting place, and it is unfair that the municipality should be able to take that away. Something needs to be done, it is unfair to traders. We should be incorporated into the proposed development at a reasonable rental. This thing needs to be finalised so we know what’s going on,” he said.

Douglas and Logie Mudaly, who have been trading at the market for 17 years, said they felt traders were being kept in the dark as to what was going on.

“We’re quite worried about the future. I am retired and do this as a hobby, but I have three men working for me, who all have families. If the market closes, this will mean three families will be without income. We are paying rent to be here and we deserve to know what is happening,” said Douglas.

He said traders had attended meetings with Hoy Park Management and were told the company would take over the market and form a committee to run it.

READ RELATED: No campaign can stop us, City Manager tells Stables’ objectors

“Since then, we haven’t heard anything more as management doesn’t liaise with traders. This market has such character and is such a lovely place, it shouldn’t be closed down,” he said.

The owner of the stall, Fantastic Plastic and Chemicals, said she had been trading at the market for 14 years and had built up a very big clientele over the years.

“My customers love our stuff and know where to find me. I have just had a customer from Port Elizabeth come through to get supplies. This income is vital to sustain our lives, we don’t make a killing, but we are able to put food on the table. How many stadiums and sports facilities do we need? I speak on behalf of all the traders that not one person here is living a comfortable life, we do this to make a living,” she said.

She said she couldn’t understand why the municipality would want to take away people’s livelihoods instead of creating jobs.

“They want to close us down to make way for yet another white elephant! The traders are so doubtful and the customers are worried, they are asking us questions that we can’t answer. We need to know where we stand. You can see the worry on everyone’s faces, it’s causing distress. It’s scary that one day we could arrive and there will be locks on the gates,” she said.

Patron, Nagesh Polton, said the market was a landmark and he felt it should be incorporated in the planned development.

“It would be a real pity to lose this market. It’s a place people really enjoy going to, it’s an outing for the family. There are not many places you can go to in Durban,” he said.

Patrons, Shaun Rampersad and Keshnie Pungavanam, said they visited the market fairly often.

“There are a variety of stalls, there’s live entertainment, bargains, free parking, it’s the complete package and we really enjoy coming to the market,” said Keshnie.

“I really don’t think this market should be closed down, a lot of people will lose their livelihoods and we would lose out on coming here,” said Shaun.

Latest developments

AN attorney representing Glen Eden Trading 31, addressed media at a meeting at her offices in Umhlanga last week. She confirmed her clients were continuing their battle with eThekwini Municipality to keep the Stables Lifestyle Market in operation.

The attorney, Tashya Giyapersad, presented the background to the case saying the focus was to oppose eviction, and said she felt they had an airtight case against the municipality.

The proposal is for Glen Eden Trading as well as the Newmarket Stables to make way for an international sports development centre with a football academy to be built in the Kings Park Precinct by Hoy Park Management (Pty) Ltd, who were awarded the tender by the municipality. The initial tender was to the value of R70 million, but  this has now somehow increased to R700 million.

READ RELATED: Public invited to comment on proposed soccer academy

Giyapersad said her clients were lawful occupants of the premises and that the city had sought to evict them without fair warning or proper notice. She said there was something suspicious about the evictions and the relationship between Hoy Park Management (Pty) Ltd and the municipality.

“Hoy Park Management (Pty) Ltd is most certainly linked to certain individuals at the eThekwini Municipality. My clients have been informed that this tender is a private treaty, but this could only be the case if there was no other company which was capable of completing the project, but this didn’t even go out to tender. Due process was not followed and the Municipality still has to explain its actions but is doing everything to avoid explaining itself. It is hiding behind litigation,” she said.

Newmarket Stables put in answering affidavits in the eviction application on 31 January and intended on filing a review application on the same date, challenging the municipality’s decision to award the contract to Hoy Park, however, attorney, Belinda Stirling, said this week: “There were no funds to continue with the litigation and the Newmarket Stables Equestrian Club agreed to vacate the premises by 31 July.”

The eThekwini Municipality refused to comment further on the progress of the development saying it did not comment on matters that are before the court.

Lauren Walford

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