Category Archives: Karishma Ganpath

Mercury: Police arrest 500 street traders

Police arrest 500 street traders

METRO Police yesterday arrested about 500 street vendors who were protesting against the arrest of 25 of their colleagues on Monday.

A group of vendors had gathered outside the Durban Magistrate’s Court in Somtseu Road demanding that their colleagues, who had been arrested in the Warwick Triangle, be released.

Pleas for them to disperse fell on deaf ears. The protesters congregated outside the court gates and tried to force their way in, saying that they would not leave until their companions were released. Many carried posters calling on the municipality to do away with the Business Support Unit, which they claimed had done nothing constructive for street traders.

The 25 vendors were arrested on Monday when they resisted a Metro Police operation enforcing bylaws.

The protestors littered Somtseu Road with boulders, pieces of wood, rubbish bins, concrete slabs and bricks, and pelted the police with missiles.

The Metro Police cordoned off the road at the Stanger Street intersection, while the SA Police Service’s Crime Combating and Public Order units were called in to prevent the group from entering the court precinct.

Police moved in after the traders refused to disperse, first targeting those who had rocks and sticks. In the aftermath, shoes were lying everywhere, left behind by people attempting to flee the stun grenades and a water cannon.

As police herded the traders into trucks, a lone woman was seen collecting their shoes, hats and a cellphone that had been dropped. The sheer number of those arrested meant that police vehicles had to make several trips to take the arrested traders to jail. Police Supt Vincent Mdunge said the traders would be charged with public violence and with attending an illegal gathering.

Earlier in the morning, police had used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse about 300 traders on Soldier’s Way as they attempted to march to the court building.

Themba Duma, a spokesman for the Informal Traders’ Management Board, an umbrella organisation representing Durban’s street traders, said that vendors could not afford the increased cost of demarcated trading sites.

He also complained that there were no shelters and no water for licensed traders.

Philip Sithole, spokesman for the Business Support Unit, said that progress had been made at a meeting yesterday afternoon of Metro Police officials, representatives of the informal traders and Municipal Manager Mike Sutcliffe.

It had been agreed that the traders would still be subject to rentals but that they would be able to pay these on a quarterly basis, with three months to be paid upfront. The Business Support Unit would be open to negotiating extended payment plans for those who could not afford the fees.

Sithole added that rentals for 2008 and 2009 would be discussed this year to avoid a repeat of the clashes. He said that raids and enforcement of bylaws would continue in an effort to root out those operating without permits or outside designated trading areas, which would be determined by street trader leaders, the Metro Police and the Business Support Unit.

Sithole said the police might free some of those arrested during yesterday’s clashes, but that those who had been violent would be prosecuted.

A Netcare 911 spokesman said two women had required medical assistance.


Arrested informal traders released

June 21, 2007 Edition 1


HUNDREDS of informal traders who were arrested during two separate protests in central Durban this week were released by the Durban Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

Families, friends and informal traders’ leaders packed the premises of the court to support those charged with public violence and gathering illegally.

Because of the number of accused, the prosecutor and magistrate went down to the cells, where the proceedings took place.

Ecstasy and contentment were written on the faces of those released. However, they complained of brutal treatment at the hands of police.

Nokulunga Dlamini said police had forced them to sleep on the floor. “Oppression is not over,” she said. “The police are still abusing people.”

The traders were arrested during clashes with police on Monday and Tuesday.

On Monday, the traders threw stones and bottles at the police, who responded with rubber bullets, stun grenades and a water cannon. Twenty-five vendors were arrested.

Hundreds of vendors marched to the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, demanding their colleagues’ release. The police moved in after the traders refused to disperse and arrested more than 500 of them.

A spokesman for the Informal Traders’ Management Board, Themba Duma, said that the traders would return to their posts today.

“I’m happy that our companions were released, but we are going to protest until the city meets our demands,” he said.

The traders are to appear in court again on July 27.

Mercury: Police, informal traders clash

June 19, 2007 Edition 1

Karishma Ganpath

More than 1 000 street vendors clashed with police in a violent protest against a raid on illegal traders in the Warwick Triangle in Durban yesterday.

The protest started just after 7.30am when Metro Police officers began the raid. Many vendors retaliated and threw large stones, fruit and vegetables, and glass bottles at the officers and their vehicles.

The police’s Public Order and Crime Prevention Unit was called in to assist the officers after they had failed to control the crowd with stun grenades.

Armed officers arrived in droves with a water canon that was used to disperse the crowd, and five vendors were arrested.

Warwick Junction and Warwick Road were cordoned off when the vendors surrounded the police, demanding the release of their companions.

Many said the behaviour of the police was uncalled for, and that the problem could have easily been dealth with if negotiations had taken place between the traders and the city.

Despite being drenched in water, the group gathered singing slogans that mobilised support from other vendors.

They encouraged them to fight for goods that had been confiscated, and their leaders tried to negotiate with the police to release those arrested for violent behaviour and incitement.

Metro Police Dir John-Thomas Tyala said that officers would continue to enforce the law and carry out raids on informal traders.

“Vendors are encouraged to query the matter with the city’s Business Support Unit. We are here to uphold the law and protect ordinary citizens,” said Tyala.

“They should stop attacking the police; there is a platform on which they can discuss their grievances. Some of the traders don’t have permits, and they can discuss these issues with the city and negotiate a grace period to obtain permits.”

Business Support Unit spokesman Phillip Sithole said the municipality would meet today to discuss the issue of the informal traders.

About two weeks ago, the street traders marched to the Durban City Hall protesting against the increase in their annual fees.

Sithole said the municipality had responded to the traders’ concerns at a meeting earlier this month.

“We will try to accommodate street vendors who cannot pay their annual fees upfront, which comprises R39.90 a month for an unsheltered site, or R68 a month for a sheltered site.”

Businessmen in the Warwick Triangle said that they sympathised with the traders.

One shopkeeper, who did not want to be named, said: “The situation was unfair because the traders are working to make an honest living. It’s either they work, or they resort to crime to fend for their families.

“Their goods are their bread and butter, and it was a sad sight to see their stock being confiscated.”