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Confusion over tuckshops

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Police move in

Pictures: Soraya Crowie

CONFUSION around trading regulations for tuckshops saw a number of tuckshops closed by the police in all areas of the city today.

Tuckshop owners appeared unaware of any new regulations, with some indicating that according to the police that they were only allowed to open between 7am to midday and then again from 5pm to 7pm.

The police, mostly driving in unmarked vehicles, also confiscated cigarettes from tuckshops wherever they were being sold.

Tuck shops owners complained that they are unaware of the new regulations with many demanding that their stocks of cigarettes be returned to them.

A tuckshop owner in Galeshewe said her tuckshop was the only one on her block to be closed by the police.

Feitjie Mier was left angry and confused after her shop was closed for the third time since Friday, with no reasons given.

“I am still trying to find out who is allowed to open and when.”

Mier, who has been operating her tuckshop for five years, said she felt that she was being discriminated against because she was the only South African running a tuckshop in the area, adding that it appeared that foreign-owned tuckshops were allowed to remain open.

“On Friday at lunch time a branded van with two police officers arrived and banged on my doors, instructing me to close down. 

“On Saturday another two officers arrived in an unbranded van and did the same. This time I was more brave and asked them for the documents outlining the requirements but they implied that I was disobeying the lockdown instructions,” she said.

“It seems they are targeting my business. I am not sure whether it is because I am situated in the main road and the other tuckshops are tucked away in the smaller streets. But I feel it is unfair that some are allowed to operate and others not. What is good for one should be good for all,” said Mier.

Mier said she received conflicting reports on when tuckshops were allowed to operate.

“I decided to call the Galeshewe police station for clarity and was told that I could operate until 6pm. I then re-opened my business and decided to wait for the police to arrive again.”  Several members of the community immediately flocked to Mier’s tuckshop to buy grocery items after she re-opened. The customers said it was much easier to pop into the tuckshop for items like bread and milk rather than join the endless queues at the nearby Shoprite supermarket.

“It doesn’t matter to us which tuckshop is open. As long as we can get bread and milk on a daily basis without having to join crowds of people at the supermarkets where we are putting ourselves at risk,” one customer, Lebogang Osch, pointed out.

Several other tuckshops in Galeshewe,  Roodepan and Colville, as well as in the Kimberley CBD, were also closed around lunchtime by police officials in unbranded vehicles. According to these tuckshop owners, they were also unsure about what was happening.

“Initially we were told that shops selling essential items like food could stay open. Then there was talk about only South African-owned tuckshops being allowed to operate. Some people also said that only tuckshops that had the necessary licences from the municipality could do business. Now the police are talking about us only being open for certain hours. We don’t know what is going on,” one tuckshop owner said.

“The government said people should rather go to shops in their vicinity than go to supermarkets to avoid congestion and crowds. But this appears to be an about-turn,” he added.

Spokesperson for the Northern Cape Police, Brigadier Mohale Ramatseba, said he was still awaiting clarity from the national office on the new tuckshop regulations and why local shops were raided.