Pretoria - A vegetable vendor was shot dead in Pretoria central for refusing to hand over his stock to Tshwane metro police, the Tshwane Traders' Forum alleged on Thursday.
Its chairman Shoes Maloka said Foster Jan Rivombo was shot on Wednesday by a metro police officer who wanted to confiscate his stock of apples and bananas.
Tshwane metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Isaac Mahamba referred questions to mayoral spokesman Blessing Manale, who could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
The French news agency Agence France-Presse reported that the SA Police Service was investigating.
“The hawkers started to throw stones on the metro police, so then they fired some shots,” Captain Agnes Huma was quoted as saying.
She reportedly said the man who was shot was in his early 30s and died after being taken to hospital.
Maloka said Rivombo was shot at point blank range.
“There was an argument between hawkers and the (metro) police officers. One of the policemen drew a gun and shot him because they wanted to take the bananas.” he said.
“After shooting him, they put him inside a bakkie and did not call an ambulance for about three hours.
“Some hawkers intervened, demanding that an ambulance be called. The police arrested the hawkers who intervened. They are in detention as we speak,” said Maloka.
He said the forum's leaders spent Thursday trying in vain to get their members released.
The vendors threatened to strike if their members were not set free.
“The worst part is that the officer who shot Rivombo is still roaming around the streets with his service gun. He is still on duty and nothing has happened to him. We have seen him today,” said Maloka.
“We have been seeking engagements with the city's political leadership, but we are told they are in Mpumalanga for the ANC rallies.
“We have sought to speak to anyone who can help us but without success. Several hawkers in the city centre said they saw the shooting and were traumatised.
Nicky Mabasa, who sells cellphone accessories along Paul Kruger Street, said he feared for his life.
“The Tshwane metro treats us as if we are selling dagga or something like that. They shot him up there, in a public place. The metro police run this city like a mafia. We are at their mercy,” he said.
“They come daily and demand bribes, if we refuse to pay they take our stock. We don't know where it ends. We have families to feed and if many of these fellow traders were not selling, maybe they would be thieves.” Mernad Mthakane said metro police often demanded bribes from the hawkers. He said apart from selling on street corners, the vendors also had to play a daily hide and seek game with the police.
“You see how dirty this city has become. They don't concentrate on giving service to residents, but focus on chasing the poor out of the city.
“Serious criminals roam freely in the city while cops are chasing us daily,” said Mthakane. - Sapa