The Citizen (KZN)
Mai Mai traders get mad
TENSION: CLAIM JOBURG PROPERTY COMPANY LETS VENUE GO TO ROT
JPC says it will respond to allegations as soon as it is ‘expedient’.
Traders at Johannesburg’s historic Kwa Mai Mai market have a bone to pick with the embattled Johannesburg Property Company (JPC). After numerous attempts to vent their concerns to senior management, including JPC CEO Helen Botes, they said the property was on a constant downward spiral due to lack of maintenance, security risks and lack of communication between the market traders’ committee and JPC property managers.
JPC said it would respond “as soon as it is expedient”.
Despite a supposed cash injection of over R10 million which saw refurbishments at the place in 2017, traders said they did not see half of that money spent on the property and structures continued to deteriorate.
Malibongwe Sithole, chairperson of Kwa Mai Mai Market, said: “We were elected on 27 June 2018, but to date the JPC officials are refusing to work with the legitimate, democratically elected committee.
“There are a number of things that need JPC’s attention. We have written a number of letters to JPC CEO, Miss Helen Botes, but to our surprise and shock we have never received any response from her,” he said.
“We met with the MMC’s office on 18 January 2019 ... but to date they have failed to come and resolve the issues we are facing at [the market]. To our surprise ,there are plenty of [funds] supposed to be injected into Mai Mai. To date no one has come.”
JPC has been embroiled in corruption scandals over the past few weeks. Botes and her chief financial officer, Imraan Bhamjee, are being probed for wasteful expenditure after spending R19 million on sanitising various municipally-owned properties in Johannesburg, in the days following the Covid-19 lockdown commencement in March.
The companies involved were allegedly paid inflated prices. Botes’ office had not yet replied to questions sent by The Citizen on the allegations made by the Kwa Mai Mai traders.
Urine can be smelled all around the main entrance to the market as one enters the unmanned security gate. There are swarms of flies in the many non-functioning toilets, so customer and traders have to make other arrangements for ablutions.
Considering that between 2014 and this year, at least R13 million was supposedly pumped into this establishment, it ise found wanting. A massive pile of rubbish with children playing in it greets customers on their way to the stalls. It is lying next to a brand new waste bin that was delivered less than 24 hours ago.
An elder in the market, Zodwa Pikoli, said crime and neglect have dimmed the prospects of a future for many traders. “Things are only getting worse. We are not happy with JPC because they don’t seem to know what they are doing. They don’t care. You can’t take a place as old as this and give to people who don’t even know what they are doing.
“They need to ask us. We have elected a committee to represent us. I really wish that things would improve. This is the place of our fathers. I was born into my father’s business here.”