Il­le­gal ven­dors riot in Harare

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Harare Bu­reau

PO­LICE yes­ter­day fought run­ning bat­tles with il­le­gal ven­dors who were protest­ing the con­fis­ca­tion of their wares by Harare City Coun­cil Mu­nic­i­pal Po­lice in the Cen­tral Busi­ness Dis­trict (CBD).

Po­lice had to fire tear­gas across the CBD to dis­perse the ven­dors some of whom fought back throw­ing stones at the law en­force­ment agents.

Busi­ness was brought to a halt in most parts of the city cen­tre as shop own­ers closed their shops fear­ing that the war­ring ven­dors could de­stroy their goods.

Some street fa­thers who were al­legedly given food by ven­dors that op­er­ate near Har­vest House (the MDC-T head­quar­ters), also joined in the protests.

Harare City Coun­cil is car­ry­ing out an oper­a­tion to re­move the il­le­gal ven­dors from the city’s pave­ments.

On Mon­day, the il­le­gal ven­dors opened the fuel tank of a mu­nic­i­pal trac­tor used to con­fis­cate goods and spilled diesel onto the road.

The ven­dors threw card­board boxes on the spilt diesel around the trac­tor with the in­ten­tion of burn­ing the prop­erty be­long­ing to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, only to be stopped by po­lice of­fi­cers who were de­ployed to the scene.

The ven­dors fled the scene on sight of the law en­force­ment agents.

Coun­cil spokesper­son Mr Michael Chideme said ven­dors should op­er­ate at des­ig­nated places say­ing the mu­nic­i­pal po­lice would not be in­tim­i­dated by the il­le­gal ven­dors from ful­fill­ing their du­ties.

“The coun­cil’s po­si­tion is (that) all ven­dors must trade from des­ig­nated points. The city pave­ments should be used by res­i­dents with­out hin­drance from il­le­gal ven­dors.

“Ven­dors were al­lo­cated vend­ing sites, which they should use. All the other pub­lic spa­ces are not set aside for vend­ing. Coun­cil had a duty to en­force com­pli­ance with vend­ing sites. No amount of in­tim­i­da­tion will de­ter the mu­nic­i­pal po­lice from ful­fill­ing their polic­ing du­ties,” he said.

Happy Events, a cloth­ing bou­tique along Ge­orge Silundika and Angwa Street, had its busi­ness se­verely af­fected as po­lice threw tear­gas in­side the shop.

“We closed our busi­ness, when the dis­tur­bances started. Po­lice, how­ever, threw tear­gas into the shop, break­ing one of our glass doors in the process.

“We lost a day’s busi­ness be­cause cus­tomers could not en­ter the shop ow­ing to the dense tear­gas that is still in the build­ing.

“We also sent home some of our work­ers who were greatly af­fected by the tear­gas,” said a worker from the shop who re­fused to be named.

Shops such as OK Su­per­mar­ket, Bata, TV Sales and other small re­tail shops in the CBD were closed for most part of yes­ter­day af­ter­noon.

Po­lice spokesper­son Se­nior As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Charamba, said she was at­tend­ing other po­lice busi­ness dur­ing the day and was still to be briefed on the mat­ter re­fer­ring ques­tions to Asst Insp Tari­rayi Dube whose phone rang unan­swered.

Queen of Grace Zim-As­set Trust na­tional sec­re­tary Cde Alexio Mudzen­gere, re­cently said his or­gan­i­sa­tion was mulling su­ing or­gan­is­ers of pro­tes­tors af­ter their vend­ing stalls at Copaca­bana bus ter­mi­nus were re­duced to ashes by fire.

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