Braamfontein's Neighbourgoods market remained closed and empty till 11am this morning. Photo: Roxanne Joseph.

Braamfontein’s Neighbourgoods market remained closed and empty till 11am this morning. Photo: Roxanne Joseph.

Joburg’s biggest inner-city attraction, the Neighbourgoods market, left customers locked out this morning as employees protested inside the space in Braamfontein.

Over an hour after it was meant to open, workers started a protest against the closure as customers stood outside in the cold, following a surprise visit from City of Johannesburg inspectors which left the market close to a permanent shut-down.

Adam Levy, owner of the market, arrived to deal with the situation only to be told the market does not meet certain regulations and requirements and cannot continue to operate.

Food stalls were required to remove most of their gas cannisters from the premises and some even had to move their set-ups from downstairs to the open area upstairs.

Owners of clothing and jewellery stalls which were all set up and ready for the market to open at 9am, were angry as they felt any food and safety issues should not affect them.

“I have to pay my rent,” said Christopher Wagner of second-hand clothing store Asseblief. “If they shut down the market I’m setting up on the side of the street outside.”

According to Wagner, in the three years that he has been selling his clothing here, the City has shut the Market down at least three times.

With a construction site right next door to the ground level of the building, inspectors said it was “unhealthy and unhygienic to eat here,” according to Karabo Mashishi of the leather brand Wolf & Maiden.

Some customers made their way to a local coffee shop to wait for the market to open its gates while others left in frustration.

“I’ve heard that the market has had incidents like this before,” said Clive Fortuine, a regular Neighbourgoods customer. “Last year this happened a few times, apparently there were too many people inside.”

The market eventually opened just before 11am and although security initially closely monitored the number of people they let inside, it filled up quickly and business carried on as usual.