City Police, Vendors Clash in Katutura

There were running battles yesterday as members of the City Police clashed with a group of women street vendors.

The vendors resisted the police as the latter tried to remove them from undesignated trading spots in Ondola Street in Okurangava.

Police had to reinforce their command to disperse the charging group. No casualties were recorded but some officers were slapped by the women who numbered about 33.

It is alleged that two women lost their cloting in the encounter, while the police beat them with batons. One woman was allegedly grabbed by the feet, turned upside down and given a lashing.

It was a battlefield, said one of the vendors, Andreas Kangongo, adding. “We lost a lot of money that was taken from one of our members.”

Kangongo said the money was a collection from the vendors and was to be used to buy sales items for the group for sharing.

Eighteen of the vendors were arrested. Three of the women had their babies with them -aged three months, five months and one year and five months. The women face charges of assault and contravening municipal bylaws. Other than making the streets of Windhoek and suburbs untidy, social commentators argue, urban security is also compromised with vendors crowding public spaces. Pedestrians and motorists have complained of their movements being restricted.

City Police Superintendent Oscar Simataa said the vendors were warned to move but refused to cooperate.

“The municipality had cleared a piece of land on the eastern side, opposite the clinic for them to use,” he said.

Windhoek City Councillor Benestus Kandundu yesterday told New Era that the petition listing the grievances of the vendors was tabled at a council meeting on March 17 this year. “I have done what I could. I tried to help them but the matter is now in the hands of the Department: Strategic Executive Urban Planning and Property Management for recommendations according to a council resolution: Res. 45032014,” Kandundu said.

The vendors vowed to take their cause to the prime minister for attention.

Source : New Era