Street trading

In Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality and Others v East London Motor Vehicle Traders Association (Case No. CA348/2013, Eastern Cape Division, Grahamstown), the High Court dealt with an appeal involving the provisions of the Street Trading By-law and the Second-Hand Goods Act, 2009.

An association of traders sold second-hand cars from parking spaces on a portion of public road, adjacent to the Buffalo City Public FET College and a national monument. None of the traders had a valid trading permit, issued in terms of the By-law; none of them was registered under the Act. Accordingly, their conduct was in contravention of the applicable legislation.

When traffic and police officers issued J534 notices for the above contravention and instructed the traders to remove the cars, the traders brought an urgent application in the Magistrates Court for a spoliation order. They alleged that they had been in peaceful and undisturbed possession of a public place and required the restoration of such possession and an interdict against the municipality and the police. The Magistrates Court granted the application.

On appeal, the High Court held that the parking of cars on undisclosed dates and for undisclosed periods of time, in marked parking spaces established for public use, fell considerably short of possession. Furthermore, the traders could not be found to have been dispossessed. The traffic and police officials were empowered to impound the traders’ carsbecause they were acting unlawfully; by offering the traders an opportunity to cease their unlawful conduct was proper, sensible and proportional law enforcement that was commended by the High Court.

The appeal was upheld with costs.

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