Harare warns vendors against bashing municipal cops

HARARE - Harare City Council has appealed to the public to cooperate with municipal police and council traffic enforcement officers following the assault of its officers driving vendors out of the central business district (CBD).

HCC spokesperson Michael Chideme said vendors, kombi drivers and touts have become a menace as they assault officers carrying out their duties.

“We have had incidents where our officers are assaulted, injured and taken to hospital for treatment. Currently we have received 33 reports of which 12 are women who have been injured while carrying out their duties. The reason why we have these units within council is for the preservation of peace in the city, order so that the generality of the population of Harare can move freely without any disturbances,” Chideme said.

“The pavements in Harare are for pedestrians and not for vending, the road network is for every road user, not for kombis to park their vehicles and disturb the free flow of traffic. So this is our appeal, when you see municipal officers in uniform- work with them.”

He said the number of assault cases had become worrisome for council, calling them unwarranted and against people working within the confines of the law.

“These vendors clandestinely carry stones in satchels and pushcarts and when confronted by our enforcement officers, they start throwing the missiles. It becomes a full-on war when they start retaliating with our municipal police. We have made reports to the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) to this effect,” the HCC spokesperson said.

Since the exercise to relocate vendors began in November last year, the city has deployed eight trucks for the operation with 550 municipal police and 150 from the ZRP.

As at December 15, 2017, 1 374 vendors touts and hitch-hikers were arrested, 551 have paid fines to the ZRP, 510 pushcarts have been impounded, 28 pool tables have been seized and 20,5 tonnes of perishables were destroyed.

According to informal sector committee, the operation has not been all peaceful as vendors have violently retaliated against the relocations.

“During the operation, four council police officers were injured and two of them seriously from attacks by vendors and touts. Two council vehicles were stoned and windscreens were damaged by a violent mob that jumped over the Town House perimeter fence and caused the damage in retaliation for seized goods,” read part of the minutes.