episode 3: the streets at stake

Street trading happens in cities all over the world – in New York, in São Paulo, in Singapore. But in the City of Johannesburg, it has been deemed undesirable and ill fitted with the goal of building a “World Class City”. In 2013, Operation Clean Sweep - a violent eviction of street traders - resulted in more than 8,000 people becoming almost instantly destitute and unable to pay their rent or support their families, which numbered more than 20,000 people. The traders’ goods were confiscated and in some cases, they were physically assaulted by police.

The traders turned to the courts for help.

After the High Court rejected their claims, the Constitutional Court agreed to hear the case on short notice – an almost unprecedented move. The evictions were declared unconstitutional and the street traders were allowed to resume trading with immediate effect.

“The Streets at Stake” tells the dramatic story of how street vendors and lawyers worked together to restore dignity to the thousands of people who make a living in Johannesburg’s street markets.