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Vendor disobeys law

Helpless Sophiatown residents in Arnold Street feel threatened by their neighbour.

The neighbour, who is known as Bebeza and refused to disclose his full name, is being accused by his neighbours of running an illegal restaurant from his backyard.

On 12 August Metro police and representatives from the City of Johannesburg visited Bebeza’s property to assess the situation. Their findings indicated that Bebeza did not have a licence to sell any food from his house.

City Council’s Citizen Relations and Urban Management (CRUM) regional manager Robert Siwedi ordered Bebeza to cease operation until he complies with regulations. “We ordered the owner to cease operation until he complies with the Health Act and the Town Planning Scheme,” he said.

According to Soraya Khano, a resident of Arnold Street, Bebeza resumed operation on 14 August claiming he had obtained a

trading licence. “He started selling again two days after they closed him down. How is it possible to get a licence in two days?” asked Khano.

Bebeza insisted that his licence was valid even after Sophiatown Police Station Commander Brigadier Susan Pitout allegedly confiscated his licence. Pitout said she confiscated the licence he produced due to uncertainty around its validity. When questioned about when he applied for his trading licence Bebeza said, It doesn’t matter when I applied for it, I have a licence”.

Bebeza further said he disapproved of people coming to his property and harassing him. He threatened to file a protection order against the residents who had a problem with him selling food from his yard.

“They are abusing me on my property every day so I’m going to file a protection order against all of them. It’s not right,” said Bebeza.

Anna Winnaar, another resident in Arnold Street, expressed concerns about her safety due to the kind of crowd Bebeza’s trading attracted. “I have to take the long route to get to the bus stop because of the illegal gamblers that are always on the street corner. It’s not safe for me to walk alone,” she said. The gamblers have not been seen since 12 August.

Winnaar has had several unpleasant altercations with the restaurant owner. In one encounter, the owner allegedly told her the gamblers will continue gambling. In another, the police allegedly looked on while the owner and his wife intimidated Winnaar for taking photographs of police vehicles that had parked outside the restaurant. “If my husband wasn’t there, they may have hit me and nobody was going to do anything,” said Winnaar.

Khano and Winnaar identified Brixton and Sophiatown police officers as popular customers at Bebeza’s illegal restaurant, saying they start parking outside his property from 10am everyday.

Pitout said she did not think her officers were aware that Bebeza had been operating illegally.

The city’s health department confirmed they did not issue Bebeza a trading licence, but rather handed him a document notifying him about the requirements he has to fulfill before he can be permitted to


Bebeza was forced to close shop again on 22 August.

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