Jo’burg informal trader lays assault charge against cops

The City of Johannesburg may have won a temporary court victory against street traders on Wednesday but the Socio Economic Rights Institute (Seri) is planning a new court action, this time taking a group of Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) to court for allegedly beating and insulting a Mozambican street trader last week Friday.

Albertina Mosabi (not real name) has laid criminal charges and is pursuing a civil suit against a group of JMPD officers who allegedly assaulted her for continuing to sell on the streets despite the City’s "operation clean sweep" which has removed all traders from the city.

Mosabi makes a living by selling vegetables along Kerk and Troy Street. She is still reeling from the attack and has refused to  give out her name in fear of reprisals.

Mosabi claims she was trying to film a group of JMPD officers who were assaulting a fellow hawker for selling defiantly on Kerk street.

Her attempts to film the assault using her cell phone landed her in trouble as the group of over 15 officers turned on her, confiscating her cell phone and assaulting her heavily.

"They said I was making a journalist by trying to film the assault. They pushed and forced me into the back of a van where I was severely assaulted and called all sorts of names. There were a lot of xenophobic slurs directed at me as well. They said it is illegal to take photos of the police doing their job," said Mosabi.

She was eventually charged with resisting arrest and kept at the Johannesburg Central Police Station. The following day she managed to get R500 bail and went home.

Mosabi says an ambulance was later arranged by her friends to take her to the Hillbrow Community Health Care Centre, where she was given pain medication and released.

Prosecutors later declined to press charges when the matter went to court on Monday.

Claiming for damages 
Seri attorney, Nomthandazo Zondo, said they will be instituting damages claims against the JMPD and the City of Johannesburg.

"The courts conclusion that the matter was not urgent amounts to condonation of the City’s illegal behaviour and we are bracing ourselves for more brutality from the JMPD and unlawful and unjustified arrests of our clients. We are considering other remedies that may be available to our clients,"Zondo said.

Mosabi has since laid criminal charges against the officers through the assistance of Seri attorneys.

JMPD spokesperson, Edna Mamonyane, said they have no record of Mosabi reporting this matter to them and encouraged her to come forward.

Earlier this week, the high court in Johannesburg dismissed an application by informal traders who wanted to return back to trade on the streets of Johannesburg. The court held that their application had been a tad too late to warrant being heard on an urgent basis. 

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Related stories

Ipid recommends disciplinary action against police who watched Khosa beating

Police watchdog report finds that metro police members did not participate in the assault

Police release guidelines for the use of force during lockdown

The guidelines follow a court order in the case of Collins Khosa, who died after an alleged assault by members of the army and the Johannesburg metro police

Appeal to Khosa judgment imminent as family rejects police minister’s deal

The family of Collins Khosa is threatening to seek a personal costs order against Police Minister Bheki Cele

Not all of Jo’burg’s street traders can sell their wares under lockdown

Street traders are central to food security in Johannesburg. But since being declared an essential service under lockdown, street trade in South Africa’s biggest city has returned to uneven ground

Victory for Khosa family as judge makes orders to prevent further state brutality

In its ruling the high court sought to restore the ‘social contract’ between citizens and government after the assault and death of Collins Khosa

Why calling the police is not an option for me

Brutality at the hands of those meant to protect us is just too common in our society and is mostly targeted at poor, black people

Ingonyama Trust Board moves to retrench staff

More than 50 workers at the Ingonyama Trust Board have been issued section 189 notices

No proof of Covid-19 reinfection, yet

Some people report testing positive for Covid-19 after initially having the disease and then testing negative. Scientists are still trying to understand if this means that reinfection is possible

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday