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South African Information Traders Forum v.

City of Johannesburg
(Case CCT 173/13)
South African Traders Retail Association v. City of Johannesburg
(Case CCT 174/13)
South Africa
Thematic Focus:
Right to Work
Forum and Date of Decision:
Constitutional Court of South Africa
Nature of the Case:
Appeal by informal traders in Johannesburg, South Africa of a high courts
dismissal of application for interim relief from a citywide program (Operation
Clean Sweep) that bans their trading activities. Dismissal did not recognize the
urgency of traders application. Removal from trading location prevents right to
trade, traders have no means to earn a living until a decision on the lawfulness of
Operation Clean Sweep is reached. Interim relief would allow workers to continue
to trade until the high court was ready to hear arguments on the case.
Appeal of South Gauteng High Courts dismissal of application for interim relief
brought by South African Informal Traders Forum and South African National
Traders Retail Association. Appellants cited their right to access to courts under
Section 34 of the South African constitution as a basis of their appeal.
The original application for interim relief was a response to the decision in October
2013 to displace informal traders from the Central Business District of
Johannesburg as part of Operation Clean Sweep, a citywide initiative to remove
illegal traders. The applicants contend that they had the necessary authorization to
trade and that they had been doing so for years. The applicants also stressed the
urgency of their claim and the risk of irreparable harm, as their livelihood

depended on their trade and they could not wait a year until the high court would
hear arguments and rule upon the lawfulness of Operation Clean Sweep.
After hearing the appeal on an urgent basis the Constitutional Court issued an
interim order prohibiting the City of Johannesburg and the Metropolitan Police
Department from interfering with lawful informal traders right to dignity (Section
10, Constitution), which includes their rights to food and shelter. This interim order
will remain in effect until a high court hears the appellants case sometime in
2014. 2163 traders received protection from the order. (South African Informal
Traders Forum and Others v City of Johannesburg and Others; South African
National Traders Retail Association and Others v City of Johannesburg and Others
(Case CCT 173/13 & 174/13))
Enforcement of the Decision and Outcomes:
Some of the traders returned to their trading locations upon hearing of the
Constitutional Courts interdiction. However, the JMPD continued to interfere with
traders and confiscate their goods in 2013, despite the Courts interdiction. (No
incidents happened though in the first three weeks of 2014.)
Significance of the Case:
The Constitutional Courts intervention in the matters of a lower court is
unusual. The Constitutional Court seldom entertains urgent applications let alone
appeals. The traders were successfully able to communicate their right to access
courts and trade and circumvent the authority of the South Gauteng High Court.
The urgency of the appellants claim was sufficient cause as many depended upon
their ability to trade in order to feed and support themselves and their families.
The application was heard within a week from when it was instituted, showing that
the Constitutional Court can stand in defence of the Constitution and South
Africans when called to (Nomzamo Zondo, SERI).