Court dismisses Prasa bid to remove Park Station informal traders
Victory for group after application deemed not urgent
The high court in Johannesburg has dismissed an application by the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) which sought to prohibit informal trading in and around its premises in the city.
The premises are located between the CBD and Braamfontein, surrounded by Rissik, Wolmarans, Wanderers and Noord streets.
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute (Seri) represented more than 60 traders who had been prevented by Prasa from making a living from June 21 until the high court order on Monday.
“Due to this, the traders had lost their sole source of income, which for many supported themselves, their children and their extended family,” Seri said.
Seri said as traders tried to resume making a living after their removal on June 21, Prasa approached the high court on an urgent basis for interdictory relief on a two-pronged argument.
“First, Prasa argued the return of the traders would risk provoking xenophobic vigilante groups opposing their presence thereon to cause damage to Prasa property.
“Second, it argued the presence of the traders prevented Prasa from finalising its informal trade policy and accompanying regulations as well as commencing the implementation,” Seri said.
The traders opposed the application on the basis that Prasa was inappropriately relying on threatened conduct by a third party and not the traders themselves.
“Moreover, Seri argued Prasa could obtain relief in the ordinary course as it had an interdict against the vigilante grouping that had threatened action against Prasa should trade continue,” Seri said.
The traders also argued the issue of regulating trade at Park Station could be attended to without depriving traders of their ability to earn a living.
“The high court ultimately concluded that the application was not urgent and dismissed it with costs.”
Seri said the court took into consideration that an interdict on trade had the effect of causing the traders irreparable harm because they are people at the margins of society and are left with no income when they cannot trade.
Khululiwe Bhengu, Seri’s attorney representing the traders, welcomed the court’s decision and said it was a reminder that the ability to make a living cannot be separated from the right to dignity.