A group of about 200 vendors today besieged Harare municipal police offices at Town House around mid-morning demanding the return of their confiscated wares.
Municipal police had to resort to the use of maximum force in order to disperse the group of demonstrators that were baying for council police’s blood. The Town House was briefly turned into a war zone as the municipal police started beating up the demonstrators who retaliated by throwing stones from outside the council fences.
More than five people were arrested after the municipal police engaged in running battles to contain the situation. Those arrested were beaten up using baton sticks and bare hands. Members of the press were also not spared as they were strongly warned against taking any pictures of the assaults.
When contacted for a comment, Harare’s principal communications officer Michael Chideme said that municipal police did not attack the demonstrating vendors but, were just protecting council property.
“Municipal police did not attack members of the informal sector. Actually they were making sure that the members of the informal sector who had ransacked the Town House offices were removed so that they did not destroy property,” claimed Chideme.
Law enforcement agents have been attacking illegal vendors in the City Centre confiscating goods since the lapse of the 26 June ultimatum for vendors to move to designated sites. However, vendors have been refusing to move from the CBD to the designated vending sites that are situated on the city’s outskirts citing that the new areas have no ablution facilities and customers for their wares.
Hundreds of vendors’ wares worth thousands of dollars were also burnt on Friday morning as law enforcement authorities invaded the footbridge at Speke Avenue and Julius Nyerere Way in an effort to move the vendors to designated sites.
Meanwhile, Saviour Kasukuwere the recently appointed Local Government minister is today also set to tour vending sites that were established by council…More details to follow.