ALEXANDRA, South Africa – Flora Sithole, 50, a street hawker from Alexandra, watched in horror as law enforcers beat up her son, after he tried to stop them from confiscating their merchandise during a raid on Tuesday.
Two days prior to this, videos showing hawkers attacking JMPD officers with fists, at the Pan African Shopping Centre, circulated on social media.
The assault on the officers occurred on Sunday, during a raid of hawkers who had allegedly violated the City’s by-laws. However, the street vendors retaliated with violence and one officer was seen being floored by a punch to the face.
On Tuesday the officers returned to the same shopping center to confiscate more goods. Sithole, who works with her son, Strike Chauke, 29, was one of the vendors who lost her produce.
Sithole said her son was preventing officers from confiscating their goods, when the community policing forum (CPF) members started to assault him.
“They beat him with the bottom of the big brownish guns they were carrying and then took him to a police van and locked him in there. He sustained injuries and he had blood all over his body,” said Sithole.
The hawkers said Tuesday’s raid was revenge for the attack that a JMPD officer suffered on Sunday, which resulted in the arrest of two people for assaulting and interfering with officers in the execution of their duty. Six foreigners were arrested for being undocumented and others for interfering.
The hawkers said the police should have only confiscated goods from those who were fighting them.
JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla said the operation was conducted to clean the street of Alexandra and removing traders who were trading in areas which were not demarcated by the Department of Economic Development.
“It is an ongoing operation in townships, around Johannesburg and the Johannesburg CBD. People must know that if they don’t comply with the laws of the City of Johannesburg, we, as metro police, have to enforce them,” said Fihla.
He said they confiscated tons of goods, perishable and non-perishable (stalls), and for the owners to get them back, they are required to pay a certain amount.
“The fee for non-perishables is R1600 and for perishables it is R1200, storage fees are R100 per day,” said Fihla.
He slammed the attacks on JMPD officials and said the assaulted officer was recovering.
“She had bruises on her face and body, and had to be taken to Milpark Hospital,” said Fihla.