Court pardons 'poor' vendors

HARARE - A Harare court yesterday pardoned scores of vendors — some of no fixed aboard — who were rounded up and arrested by police for selling their wares at undesignated sites, on account that they were too poor to pay fines.

The vendors, to their credit, did not waste the court’s time as they pleaded guilty to blocking the free movement of people and operating at undesignated sites.

In passing sentence, Harare magistrate Victoria Mashamba consented that the vendors committed their offences out of poverty and were of little means, thus could not afford to pay fines.

It was also established that there was a possibility that if they were given time to pay fines, they could go back and recommit the same crime in order to secure the money required by the court.

Being first time offenders, the magistrate also felt community service would not be appropriate. 

The vendors were strongly warned not to commit the same offence again or risk facing stiffer penalties.

At the time of going to print yesterday, Mashamba was also set to sentence 10 more vendors who had also pleaded guilty to the same charges.

Among them was Memory Svovera, accused of vending onions on the pavement while obstructing free movement of people, Evelyn Tsatsire, accused of vending veggies along the pavement and Elisha Saunyama accused of vending steering seat covers.

In that case, circumstances are that on November 4, 2017 and at various places in the Central Business District the accused persons were arrested by municipal police for hitch hiking lifts at undesignated places as well as vending illegally along the roads, streets, thoroughfares, sidewalks and pavements.

Their business obstructed free passage or movement of people along the roads, the court heard.

The screws have been tightened on illegal vending since Mugabe last month called for return of order and normalcy in the Harare CBD.

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