Several concerned Muslim organisations have joined forces to reach out to and to upskill Isipingo’s fruit and vegetable hawkers. this comes after a section of the iconic market, central to the very fabric and history of the area South of Durban, was destroyed in the recent lootings that devastated parts of the province and Gauteng.

Spokesperson for the group, Shabir Chohan, said that this group of African and Indian traders, who for decades have worked cheek-by-jowl, have provided an invaluable and affordable service to the local community.

They were essentially micro-business and were marginal profit enterprises that provided a basic income. Without these enterprises, the owners and their families would face bleak prospects for the future.

“With this in mind, we decided on a strategic intervention where we could have the most socio-economic impact, not just on the hawkers, but on the community as well,” he said.

According to Chohan, the assisting organisations – which have immediate access to accounting, legal, business, finance, humanitarian and even pastoral skill sets – would be focusing initially on a micro-finance model comprising of grants, loans and commercial funding for qualifying candidates.

“It is at grassroots where we feel the work has to be done. The funding of the hawkers gives them the opportunity to start-up again and to contribute positively to the economic recovery of the area.”

Chohan added that the re-establishment of a section of the vibrant Isipingo market would allow the REHOP Initiative to upskill and empower the traders as well.

This is a golden opportunity to help them grow beyond what they were before. Maybe some of them can even become big business owners one day.”

Chohan emphasised that the initiative was being conducted via strategic partnerships which were the key to recovery. He said the eThekwini authorities, the fruit and vegetable suppliers, financial institutions and experts were all on board working towards the same goal of uplifting the market.

He added that REHOP had already managed to obtain two shipping containers that were delivered on site on Saturday 31 July 2021. These would serve as a temporary office in place of the permanent office which was petrol bombed and gutted during the violence in July.

 “We are totally committed to rebuilding our city. We have to create the social cohesion that is the fabric of stability. We see this REHOP Initiative as an imperative, and by taking one step at a time, we hope to contribute to the emergence of a new dawn where all South Africans can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they have a future,” he said.