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Pretoria - Hawkers in the city centre have given the City of Tshwane until Friday to meet their demands or they will make the city “ungovernable”.
This threat comes almost a week after one of their own, 20-year-old fruit vendor Foster Rivambo, from Saulsville, was shot on Bosman Street, allegedly by Tshwane Metro Police officers.
During a press briefing by the ANC Youth League, the Tshwane Barekisi Forum and the South African Informal Traders Forum on Monday at the Burgers Park Hotel, the hawkers’ leadership outlined their demands and condemned the “evil acts” of the Metro Police.
“We demand… that the City of Tshwane stop defending the man in blue who is not worthy of upholding the law. The City of Tshwane must take full responsibility for this heinous murder,” said Tshwane Barekisi Forum chairman Shoes Maloka.
Rivambo was killed during an apparent confrontation between the hawkers and metro police during the first clean-up operation of the year.
Lesego Makhubela, of the local ANCYL branch, said: “Informal traders are continually under attack. If the metro police were under attack as they claimed to be, they would only have been pelted with bananas or other fruit, which couldn’t injure them. They responded with live ammunition and killed one of us.”
The leadership, on behalf of the city’s informal trade sector, have vowed to avenge Rivambo, blaming executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa for the killing because he postponed a meeting he promised them last year.
Maloka demanded the metro deal with the “trigger happy officer” who killed one of their members.
“We also demand the immediate release of our own members who were arrested at the same time (Rivambo) was shot dead,” Maloka said.
Four hawkers were arrested on charges of public violence on Wednesday and appeared in court on Friday. The matter was postponed to January 17 and the suspects remain in custody.
“They are key witnesses as to what happened and can prove the metro police killed our comrade,” Maloka said.
He added: “We also want a lasting solution to the issue of how licences are issued by the city officials.
“Failure to comply with all our demands will give us no option but to make the city ungovernable.”
Makhubela said the hundreds of hawkers in the CBD, from all organisations, wouldn’t resort to violence but will “knock on all doors until they open”.
If the hawkers’ demands weren’t met, informal trade and traffic in the city would be brought to a standstill on Friday.
A protest march will be led to Ramokgopa’s offices.
“They (the metro) must stop their continual denial of what happened and they must not downplay the matter,” Makhubela said.
Tshwane spokesman Blessing Manale said they hadn’t suspended any metro police officers for Rivambo’s death.
“The Pretoria Central police station has opened a murder docket and our officers are fully co-operating with the investigators for any further leads and evidence.
“The city regrets the loss of life under the circumstances and once again sends our condolences to the family and kin of the deceased,” he said.
A memorial service will be held for Rivambo tomorrow at noon i n the City Hall. The ANC Youth League has promised to pay for the funeral and for transport for hawkers who want to attend the funeral in Giyani in Limpopo.
Rivambo’s older brother, Maurice Rivambo, said the police were unhelpful regarding the murder docket and treated him “like a criminal” when he asked for information.
“I am not allowed to see the docket and they (the police) don’t want to talk to me,” he said.
He said all his siblings were unemployed and made a living through informal trade.
“Even I sell fruit and vegetables back in Limpopo. I do not know what to do and it’s so hard. I feel terrible,” he said.