Vendors Arrested

AT least 18 people were arrested by City Police yesterday morning at Stop ‘n Shop in Okuryangava during a violent evacuation operation.

Eyewitnesses said City Police descended on the more than 30 vendors ordered to vacate the area since Monday but allegedly refused to do so.

On Monday, vendors challenged City Police to shoot them, saying they would rather die than be moved from the plot.

City Police Superintendent Oscar Simataa told The Namibian earlier this week that the municipality had allocated a plot in front of the Okuryangava clinic where they were expected to relocate because the plot at Stop ‘n Shop was bought by a third party.

However, they refused saying the plot at the clinic was too small and had no water or toilet facilities.

Police spokesperson Edwin Kanguatjivi confirmed the arrests, saying the vendors were taken to the Wanaheda police station yesterday.

“They were arrested for trespassing and released after being fined N$500 each. They are expected to settle this amount by a certain date or else they will appear in court,” he said.

One eyewitness said there was chaos when vendors clashed with City Police yesterday.

“City Police officers appeared from nowhere and started beating the people, forcing them to evacuate the area,” said one of the vendors, Andreas Kangongo, who witnessed the beatings.

Kangongo said those arrested were forced into two police vehicles, while others ran into the nearby shops for cover and to avoid arrest.

Another eyewitness said that he saw a pregnant woman being beaten by two police officers.

“We also lost a few items in the process because police confiscated our phones and handbags that contained money,” said the witness who preferred anonymity.

City Police senior superintendent Gerry Shikesho also confirmed the incident, but said police were just enforcing the law.

“They (vendors) were not beaten, they were simply disciplined,” he said.

Kangongo, who said that police went too far this time, said he and others were lodging a complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman.

“We are also planning on opening a case against the officers responsible” he said.

Spokesperson of the Okuryangava clinic Rosemary Dawids condemned the actions of the City Police, saying they had long planned the evacuation to get rid of the vendors.

“How can they move these people to a plot with no water or toilet facilities? It is a health hazard for them,” she said.

Source : The Namibian