WINDHOEK – A group of female street vendors who normally operate within Windhoek’s central business district (CBD) held a peaceful demonstration on Friday, marching from Shoprite in Independence Avenue to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare to hand over a petition addressed to President Hage Geingob.
The petition, read by group leader, Fernanda Edwardo, is requesting the president to intervene in what they say is harassment and victimisation by the City Police. Edwardo says most, if not all, of the group’s members have at some stage been arrested or jailed and fined large amounts of money they can barely afford. The group of vendors sell fruits and vegetables, recharge vouchers and cellphone covers to eke out a meagre living and when confronted by law enforcement officials their goods are usually confiscated. This leads to loss of income as “we are just mothers trying to earn money through non-criminal means, so that we can feed our children and send them to school,” says Edwardo.
If by November 14 the matter has not been resolved the group say they will lobby public support and organise a mass demonstration. They further suggest that the government roll out a basic income grant for all female vendors, which they suggest could cover transport money to school for their children, three daily meals and all basic needs. They suggested an amount of N$3 000 per month for the basic income grant.
The petition was received by the acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, Victor Shipo, who thanked the group for their efforts and promised that the petition will reach the relevant offices through the right channels. While commending the group for the efforts, Shipo reminded them to operate within the confines of the law.