A group of more than 50 angry street vendors from the Havana informal settlement on Friday demonstrated against Windhoek City Police officers, accusing them of destroying their structures. However, their demonstration was stopped by Namibian Police Force commander for the Khomas region Commissioner Joseph Shikongo, who said City Police officers were merely enforcing the law.
The demonstrators were demanding to see City Police Chief Abraham Kanime, whom they accused of sending his officers to chase them from their business stations. The demonstrators marched from Havana all the way to the City Police Headquarters but were unable to see Kanime, who was said to be out of the office on police duty.
One of the leaders of the demonstrators, Paulus Shifa, acknowledged the demonstration was illegal but said circumstances forced them to take to the streets when the City Police officers on duty confiscated the items they were selling on Friday morning.
“We were busy selling our goods along the road when the City Police officers came and confiscated our things. We then decided to break the law and demonstrate without following the correct procedures,” said Shifa.
He added that this is not the first time City Police kicked them off the street and confiscated their goods and equipment.
“We decided to come here to hear from the commanders as to why we should continue suffering like this,” he said.
Shifa further said they fully understand that Covid-19 is a deadly disease, but hunger is worse and many of the vendors solely rely on the income they make from selling on the streets.
The vendors further said they are finding it difficult to survive, especially with the reopening of schools because they will not be able to send their children to school when they are unable to pay taxi fares.
Addressing the demonstrators outside the City Police building, Shikongo said the informal
traders who wish to conduct business must have the right papers.
“Police officers do not make the laws they just enforce them. For those with the right papers, the police will not remove you and your structures on the streets,” Shikongo explained.
He cautioned the demonstrators to avoid breaking the rules related to demonstrating by familiarising themselves with the Public Gathering Act, pointing out that the demonstrators were more than 50, meaning they were breaking the law related to Covid-19 social distancing regulations. “Because you are already here, I will just suggest that you go back to your community committees or leaders and discuss the issue with them,” Shikongo said.
2020-06-08 09:21:09 | 25 days ago