Last week ten vendors have laid charges of assault claiming they were kicked and punched by the police during a raid when they allegedly confiscated corn, as they did not have permits. They said that the police also used pepper spray on them.
According to the Mzwandile Mvula, General Secretary of ACHIB(African Co-operative for Hawkers and Informal Businesses) and Umbumbano Traders Alliance, the business support unit is refusing to issue permits to traders who are selling mealies.
Mvula said that no one has been taking action against the police officers when complaints have been previously lodged against them." In one incident near Albert Park last year, police confiscated goods from hawkers and were seen sharing it among themselves. This matter has been reported but nothing has been done. In this matter, police brutality is unacceptable."
Last week, vendors said that they did not know why they assaulted by the police, who confiscated all of their mealies that were stored in trollies.
COSATU General Secretary, Zwelizima Vavi was called to intervene and last week Saturday he addressed hundred of informal workers, of which mostly were women. Vavi spoke about the exploitation of women in South Africa and the challenges they face at work and at home.
Mavula said that Mr Vavi will be assisting them to appeal for a premises so that proper accommodation can also be found for the informal workers, since their building they were renting in burnt down last year. Mr Vavi will be writing a letter to the Ethekwini Mayor, James Nxumalo, the Premier, Zweli Mkise and the minister of public works, Mr Thulas Nxesi. The building has already been identified and Mavula is hopeful that government recognises the key role informal traders play for self-employment and contribution to the economy.
"They need to be taken into consideration and we have been liaising with them. We have worked with the Mahatma Ghandi Foundation and also Premier Dr Zweli Mkise`s wife but have failed. The office of the Mayor and business support has been ignoring us," he said.
The mealie vendors have opened a case of assault against the police and have obtained medical reports about their injuries from Addington hospital.
Mvula added that they have been working with StreetNet International for the past two years. "StreetNet has helped us immensely as we have been addressing the policy issue. The By-laws the municipality is implementing is from the apartheid times and this needs to be reformed. StreetNet has brought the Internatinal Labour Organisation to oversee the development of the by-laws so that the informal sector is treated fairly. StreetNet has also a gender commission to ensure that there is equal gender balance, especially since most of the informal workers are women who are breadwinners," he said.
For more information contact:
Sharon Pillay, StreetNet Media and Publicity Officer
072 2577 317
Mzwandile Mvula, ACHIB and Ubumbano Secretary
078 539 2927