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‘We will destroy tuck shops’

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Members of the public have been invited to join in on the destruction of unlawful tuck shops

CONNECTED: Tuck shop owners are accused of making illegal electricity connections to the adjoining homes of residents.

THE INDEPENDENT Communities of Kimberley (ICK) intends destroying all illegal tuck shops run by foreign nationals and confiscating their goods on September 24 if Sol Plaatje Municipality does not take the necessary action.

ICK convener, Brian Banga, said that they would start destroying the illegal tuck shops in Club 2000, Phutanang, Phomolong, Galeshewe, Vergenoeg, Soul City, Ritchie and Greenpoint.

“We aim to eradicate all unlawful tuck shops in the Sol Plaatje municipal district and will continue for however long it takes. Any groceries, cash and items that have not been removed from the premises will be destroyed too.”

Banga said that it was estimated that there are more than 1 000 illegal tuck shops operating in the city.

“The ICK has 67 members and we are prepared to face some animosity over business owners losing their livelihoods. However, we will get the police to accompany us so that everything is done in a lawful manner. The police must act if they try to harm us.”

Banga said that a criminal case was opened with the police in 2013 regarding the mushrooming of illegal tuck shops, where he stated that Sol Plaatje Municipality, the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and the Premier’s Office were responsible for gross negligence and criminal misrepresentation for failing to implement the municipal by-laws regulating the operation of illegal tuck shops and contravention of the Harmful Business Practices Act.

A march has been planned for September 21, where a memorandum will be handed over to council and if no action is taken, Banga said that ICK would proceed three days later to destroy the tuck shops.

Banga said members of the public have been invited to join in on the destruction of unlawful tuck shops.

“We will be taking action against the landlords and will ensure that the foreign nationals are not injured. Everything will be conducted in a peaceful manner.

“There cannot be any action taken against us because we are implementing the municipal regulations. We have notified the police and have applied for an application in terms of the Gatherings Act because we will be bringing along axes, picks and other sharp objects to break down the shanties.”

He stated that a case was reported for investigation by the Hawks in July this year following the looting of tuck shops during recent protest action.

“We want to prevent a situation where there are threats to the safety of tuck shop owners as well as xenophobia.”

Banga pointed out that many of the tuck shops did not comply with hygiene, safety and building standards.

“Tuck shop owners and their families are sleeping inside their businesses and making illegal electricity and water connections to the adjoining homes of residents.

“The tuck shops are exceeding the allocated quota while they are taking advantage of the indigent status of their landlords. Moreover, they are exempt from paying business rates and are evading tax. Three-year leases were drawn up for three different houses of the same size although the monthly rentals differ from R750 and R800 to R1 200.”

He stated that they had requested the Hawks to investigate a municipal official who had allegedly introduced a foreign national to neighbours to give consent for a vegetable stall to be erected that was, in fact, a tuck shop.

“The official apparently accompanied the foreign national to a local attorney’s office where a contract was drawn up to erect a tuck shop inside residential premises.”

He said that Sol Plaatje Municipality was negligent in allowing the mushrooming of illegal businesses.

“There will be a refugee crisis when the tuck shops are closed,” Banga added.

Hawks spokesperson, Nomthandazo Mnisi, confirmed that the matter was referred to the Hawks for further handling.

“It does not form part of our mandate therefore it was only opened as an enquiry. The Hawks referred the matter to the municipality and social crime prevention.”

Police spokesperson, Captain Bashoabile Kale, warned that no citizen was authorised to destroy or confiscate any property.

“The fraud case that was opened had been withdrawn by the court and there is no other cases being investigated. The police will under no circumstances accompany anyone who intends to loot and destroy property. Our mandate is to serve and protect citizens and their property,” said Kale.

He added that the police were investigating cases of looting that were reported in July.

“We currently do not have any case of xenophobia reported.”