Police arrest 14 in clashes with vendors

HARARE - Riot police yesterday fired teargas to fend off marauding vendors following the arrest of 13 officials and their chairman during clashes in central Harare.

Vendors had gathered at Harare Town House where they were demonstrating against what they alleged was gross corruption by municipal police.

Police last night did not confirm the arrests as their spokesperson Charity Charamba was not answering her mobile phone.

Lawyers representing the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NVUZ) took a swipe at police for “crushing” a peaceful demonstration.

“My clients were peacefully protesting against issues of their frequent and unlawful arrest, assaults by municipal workers and issues of accountability among others,” said lawyer Kennedy Masiye.

“They were demonstrating at townhouse as they wanted to be addressed by council officials but instead of hearing their concerns, the officials alerted the law enforcers who then attacked them.”

Police, said Masiye, arrested 14 for “contravening the Public Violence Act.”

“There are 14 vendors arrested including three women and we are told they are to be charged with contravening public violence act and they are expected in court tomorrow (today),” he said.

Among those arrested was NVUZ chairman Sten Zvorwadza who told the Daily News that they had been given the nod to peacefully air their grievances at the Harare City Council headquarters  but were surprised by the involvement of police.

“We were demonstrating peacefully at the Town House as we are not happy with the way municipal police conduct its duties,” Zvorwadza said.

“They always seize our wares but it is painful that they do not account for those goods they take from us. We are pushing for clarity, transparency and our freedom. Freedom is our priority and we will not be compromised.”

Tempers flared when police arrested Zvorwadza and 13 others. The vendors charged at the car ferrying their colleagues and police fired teargas in a bid to drive them off the council offices.

Harare City Council spokesperson Michael Chideme was reluctant to comment on the matter.

Yesterday’s clashes became the latest episode of the angry confrontations between ordinary Zimbabweans and police.

Two weeks ago violent clashes, which led to riots, broke between protesters and police over ill-conceived policies which they blamed for the current hardships.

Riots erupted in the small border town of Beitbridge where small traders protested against a government import ban on South African goods, before they spread to Harare where commuter omnibus drivers clashed with police over extortion at their roadblocks.

Local cleric Mawarire and Tajamuka/Sesijikile are credited with organising July 6 strike widely seen as the biggest general strike to have been mounted in the history of post-independent Zimbabwe.

Comments (1)

We're keenly waiting for the hunger and anger to reach the riot "police". Once that happens, it will be easy for everyone else.

Sagitarr - 18 July 2016

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