13 September 2007
Over 28 hawkers yesterday spent time at the Johannesburg Central Police station cells, others were assaulted for doing nothing criminal but selling snacks, fruits and soft-drinks at various railway stations and on trains in Gauteng.
Security guards started shooting at the resisting hawkers arresting everybody deemed to be trading at Johannesburg Station. Tiisetso is a hawker staying in Mapetla Soweto, relating the events says: "Yesterday many hawkers were arrested. They were loaded on trucks."
"Are the security meant to guard criminals or hawkers?" asks one trader. He maintains that like many others, he is selling because he is hungry. With the little he earns he pays for his shack and buys clothes for his school-going children.
The leader of the SA Railway Hawkers Association Augustine Mqaba says, "the arrests and assaults on hawkers by the private security guards contracted to the state passenger railway company Metrorail has reached uncontrollable levels."
"SARHA staged a march recently to the Gauteng provincial government. Later we marched to the president`s office in Pretoria demanding a moratorium on their continuing harassment and evictions. Despite the on-going negotiations since the march, the crisis at the stations continue unabated because they are imposing their own decisions on us," says Mqaba.
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