Tshwane metro police attack hawkers, confiscate goods

Informal traders in Pretoria say they were attacked by members of the Tshwane metro police on Friday.

The vendors gathered outside the Pretoria Magistrate's Court, where their colleagues were appearing after being arrested on Wednesday by the metro police.

Hawker Foster Jan Rivombo was shot dead during the scuffle.

Wilfred Machona (28) took off his hat and sunglasses to reveal a swollen eye and blisters on his face.

"I am coming from the Pretoria Central police station, where I have opened a case of assault. I was thoroughly beaten by the police officers on Monday and was admitted to hospital. I was discharged on Wednesday," he said.

"They wanted to take all my stock and I asked that they issue me with a fine and a ticket, which I would use to collect my stuff after paying the fine. They beat me up seriously: kicked me all over," said Machona.

Taken stock
He said he has been selling sweets worth about R200. Machona said all his stock was taken, but that no ticket was issued.

"As vendors, we know that the police take our stuff and sell it to other hawkers. The stock is not booked anywhere. The officers either take it home or sell it," said Machona.

"I have lost everything, and only got away with the severe beating. I have a family to look after, and my child is three-months-old. I have no other means to survive."

Machona said he had worked closely with Rivombo. "He was my friend. We worked together in the streets. He was trying to make ends meet, like anyone else," Machona said.

Livinux Eze, another informal trader, alleged that he had also been harassed by the metro police, even though he had the documentation issued by the city to hawkers.

Pretoria police said they were investigating a case of murder following the shooting of the hawker during a confrontation with the metro police.

Captain Agnes Huma said the Tshwane metro police claimed they were attacked by the informal traders on Wednesday, during an operation to confiscate fruit sold on the street.

"They allege that they tried to seize fruit from the hawkers and they [the hawkers] attacked the metro police by throwing stones.

"The officers fired some shots at the crowd. A man was hit by a bullet in the upper body," she said.

"A case of murder was opened for investigation. Four suspects [hawkers] were arrested for malicious damage to property and public violence."

Huma could not say whether anyone had been arrested in connection with the hawker's death.

The Tshwane Traders' Forum disputed the metro police's version of events.

Turned ugly
Chairperson Shoes Maloka said the police raid turned ugly when vendors insisted on being issued with fines and a ticket to prove that their stock had been confiscated.

"The traders simply wanted to be given tickets which would enable them to pay the fines and get their goods back as the by-laws say.

The police officers then called for backup, and many Tshwane vehicles arrived with officers cocking their guns.

"They say the traders are undermining the police. They started shooting at [the vendor]. One bullet [hit] him and another missed him. They called an ambulance after several hours," Maloka said.

He said four vendors were arrested for interfering when they intervened to demand that the police call an ambulance.

Tshwane metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba referred questions to mayoral spokesperson Blessing Manale, who could not be reached for comment on Friday. – Sapa

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.

Guest Author

Related stories

Can our police be trusted with their weapons?

COMMENT: Excessive force and lack of accountability characterise South Africa’s police force

Unite with Nigeria’s ‘Speak Up’ generation protesting against police brutality

Photos of citizens draped in the bloodied flag have spread around the world in the month the country should be celebrating 60 years of independence

The Nigerian government is killing its citizens — again

‘Nigeria kills its people. Nigeria has always killed its people.’

Elnathan John: Our merciful Nigerian father

“They say people disappear, young men with dreadlocked hair, with tattoos, or even just carrying a laptop in a backpack,” writes Elnathan John in a reflective essay about Nigeria.

‘We don’t want to be shot to death’

Nigerian protesters have taken to the streets to protest the police’s brutal special anti-robbery unit, which they say profiles tech-savvy youths

Editorial: Treat all people like white men

On Tuesday, Free State farmers set a police van on fire and stormed the Senekal magistrate’s court to get to the...

Subscribers only

Covid-19 surges in the Eastern Cape

With people queuing for services, no water, lax enforcement of mask rules and plenty of partying, the virus is flourishing once again, and a quarter of the growth is in the Eastern Cape

Ace prepares ANC branches for battle

ANC secretary general Ace Magashule is ignoring party policy on corruption-charged officials and taking his battle to branch level, where his ‘slate capture’ strategy is expected to leave Ramaphosa on the ropes

More top stories

Limpopo big-game farmer accused of constant harassment

A family’s struggle against alleged intimidation and failure to act by the authorities mirrors the daily challenges farm dwellers face

Did Botswana execute ‘poachers’ ?

The Botswana Defence Force’s anti-poaching unit has long been accused of a ‘shoot to kill’ policy. Over 20 years the unit has killed 30 Namibians and 22 Zimbabweans

Zondo tightens his grip with criminal complaint against Zuma

The state capture commission’s star witness now faces a criminal complaint and another summons

Sharp sting of the Green Scorpions

Crime busters secure a 97% conviction rate and register more criminal dockets for range of crimes

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…