By Staff Reporter
Vendors operating in the Central Business District of Bulawayo have told of their harrowing experience at the hands of municipal police who harass them for operating without licences.
The vendors and the police engage in running battles on a daily basis.
Narrating their ordeal at the recently held Vendors and Informal Traders conference in Bulawayo, the vendors accused the municipal police of acting inhumanly.
Some of the vendors who spoke to this reporter said they have even come up with survival tactics and ways of evading the menacing police.
“Recently, some of our colleagues were chased by a group of municipal police and they ran into a city morgue. The police followed them inside and took our wares,” said one vendor, Killian Ndebele.
Ndebele said they have resorted to displaying a few of their goods and hiding the rest in the event that they are raided.
“It is now a daily occurrence that we encounter the municipal police. We have tried to come up with strategies on how to evade them,” he said.
Some of the strategies involve employing a watcher, who usually operate on either ends of the street and give the other vendors a signal when the municipal police are approaching.
“The major problem with this strategy is that sometimes we are raided by police in plain clothes and it is difficult to identify them. With time we have come to identify some of them,” said Ndebele.
Speaking at the same conference, Ward 8 Councillor Sheila Musonda promised the informal traders that council will act on their grievances.
“The municipal police should not harass vendors, they should work well with you. As council I want to assure you that we will look into your grievances,” said Councillor Musonda.
The vendors also requested that they should be made to pay a fine instead of their wares being confiscated.
They said in most cases once their wares were confiscated it was difficult to get them back and even if they did some of it would have been damaged.
The City Council has always insisted that vendors should operate from vending bays dotted in various locations in the CBD but the vendors argue that the bays are located far away from the populous places where they can easily make profit.