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Chaaban clings on

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Chaaban clings on

by Tauriq Hassen
05 Dec 2007
Peoples Post
Peoples Post

Despite threatening to bring in security guards and having lawyers on stand-by, city councillor Badih Chaaban was hardly a threat to the city on Saturday - the day of his eviction from Greenmarket Square.

Traders who did not obtain permits were told to pack up their stalls and vacate the area.

Scores of permit holders queued up in front of city officials, who were verifying their papers obtained from the Gallows Hill Traffic Department last week.

Chaaban lost his temper, however, when Mansoor Mohamed, Executive Director for Economic, Social Development and Tourism, arrived on the scene.

Pointing at Mohamed, Chaaban screamed at the traders: "This guy is a millionaire and he is responsible for what is happening here!"

But Mohamed told reporters and onlookers that he didn't know what the fuss was about.

"I don't know why he is carrying on like this, because as from today there is no lease. There never was."

Once the traders established who Mohamed was, they bombarded him with questions on the future of the market.

Meanwhile, Chaaban insisted that he still holds a lease on the square and that traders were to pay him their rentals, but the city has continually refuted this claim.

Those expecting drama on the day would have been sorely disappointed when Chaaban ambled off to have coffee after his brief outburst.

As police patrolled the area, traders went about setting up their stalls and getting ready for the day's trade.

Said Muneeb Hendricks, chairman of the Community Police Forum (CPF): "I'm really glad to see all these traders have so much faith in the city's system and everything is running smoothly and peacefully."

Later Chaaban tried to collect money from traders, but was stopped by police.

Chaaban also offered traders money to stay on his side, but only eight of the 200 traders accepted the cash.

Traders who had paid for city permits were offered the R400 cost thereof and promised their "daily rental" to Chaaban would be scrapped if they were to hand over their new permits to him.

Chaaban had also had pamphlets made, offering traders the money, but the security official handing them out was stopped by police and almost arrested.

Chaaban and the spokesperson for his political National People's Party, Juan-Duval Uys, claimed to have collected cash from between 75 and 100 traders on Saturday alone, and promised to continue doing so on Monday.

Chaaban stated his intention to continue collecting rent from traders, but, according to the city, any person who extracts money from the traders will be performing an "illegal operation".

"What he is doing is wrong and Chaaban just has to accept the changes that are being made," said Simon Grindrod, mayoral committee member for Economic, Social Development and Tourism.

But Uys insisted that Chaaban would continue to "run the square and our managers are there every day to do so. "If they (the city) want to threaten us with cops. we will bring in our lawyers."

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