Police in Harare have detained 25 vendors at a local station following skirmishes between street traders and municipal police after the local authority confiscated their goods.
Harare Municipal police clashed with some illegal street traders in the central business district after they confiscated goods such as clothes, tomatoes, cabbages and related items.
Following the raids, the street traders, holding placards denouncing the local authority and singing revolutionary songs, gathered at the city council headquarters demanding their wares back.
Samuel Wadzayi, director of the National Vendors Union Zimbabwe, told Studio 7’s Jonga Kandemiiri while in police custody that the clashes started when the angry vendors staged a peaceful protest outside the council offices.
Wadzayi said some charges have already been laid against them.
Freelance journalist Edgar Gweshe, who was covering the protest, was briefly detained by the municipal police for allegedly taking pictures of the violent scenes at Town House.
The Combined Harare Residents Association said it had dispatched a team of lawyers to the police station.
Merjury Gobvu, a street vendor who was not detained by the police, said there is no reason for the council to team up with the Zimbabwe Republic Police to intimidate and lock them up as vending is their only source of livelihood.
Peter Jack, chairperson of another vendors’ representative body, Mobile Youth Foundation, claimed that some agents of the national spy network, the Central Intelligence Organization, and youth militias allegedly linked to the government were part of the municipal police currently raiding vendors in the city.
But council spokesperson, Michael Chideme denied that municipal police assaulted the vendors today and that they were being assisted by state security agents.
Although the Harare City Council is relocating vendors to some designated vending points, the street traders say the new sites cannot cater for thousands of people currently selling various wares in the capital city’s central business district.
Indications are that some of the vendors, who were removed from the streets recently, are returning to their old vending sites to sell their wares after normal working hours when municipal police have gone home.