Cops brutalise vendors

At least 15 street vendors in Harare including their leaders were yesterday beaten up by municipal police and bundled into a council truck before they were handed over to the police as the war against informal traders escalated.

Sten Zvorwadza, chairman of the National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe, and National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe director Samuel Wadzai were also caught up in the skirmishes.

They two were brutally assaulted by the menacing council police.

Hell broke loose when a group of vendors stormed Town House, demonstrating against confiscation of their wares and arrest of their colleagues by council police.
At least 15 street vendors in Harare including their leaders were yesterday beaten up by municipal police and bundled into a council truck before they were handed over to the police as the war against informal traders escalated
The vendors blocked the exit gate, demanding that their colleagues be set free as the lorry ferrying them to the police station was being driven out.

Others lay on the ground in front of the moving vehicle, threatening violence if their colleagues were not released.

As Zvorwadza stepped in to calm down the vendors, he was attacked by the council police and dragged inside Town House together with several other vendors while other demonstrators were chased away by municipal police officers.

The situation resembled a war zone as vendors chanted and threatened violence.

Council spokesperson Michael Chideme said municipal police reacted after the vendors disrupted business at Town House.

Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere said there was no going back on government stopping illegal vending in the country’s central business districts.

Kasukuwere, who later toured the Coventry holding bay site blasted council officials of taking long to make it usable by vendors.

“Why do you want to put us into disrepute? We saw this two weeks ago, do you want us to fail to defend you?

“People should come to a clean place. Why do you want to settle people here?” fumed Kasukuwere as he dressed down acting town clerk Josephine Ncube and other council officials.

“This should be worked on 24 hours; there is no need to sleep. People should work to ensure the place is suitable.”

“You erected this tent after you heard that I was coming here.”

Kasukuwere only calmed down when Ncube assured him that council would address the issue within two weeks.
The minister defended municipal police saying they were doing their job.

“They are enforcing the law and I don’t think citizens should expose themselves like that,” he said.
“We must tackle this as a family in a peaceful and orderly manner.”

Small to Medium Enterprises Development minister Sithembiso Nyoni, who was with Kasukuwere during the tour, also expressed reservations over poor planning in pitching tents by council.

By late last night, the arrested vendors were still at Harare Central Police Station where their lawyer Jeremiah Bhamu was making frantic efforts to have them released.

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