Hawkers in the city centre have vowed to make the city “ungovernable” after the murder of one of their own, allegedly by a Tshwane Metro Police officer on Wednesday.
Scores of informal traders protested outside the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court on Friday, blaming executive mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa for the murder of 20-year-old Foster Rivambo from Saulsville.
They vowed to avenge Rivambo’s killing and said it was because Ramokgopa postponed a meeting he promised them last year.
Rivambo was gunned down in Bosman Street near the station when the metro police held their first clean-up operation for the year as part of “Operation I Can”.
Four hawkers briefly appeared in court yesterday on charges of public violence on Wednesday.
One of the suspects wore a blood-stained shirt and had a long cut on his head.
The courtroom was packed with the protesting hawkers who said the police who allegedly killed Rivambo were supposed to appear in court.
“The one who should be standing in the dock is wearing a blue metro police uniform and is supposed to be enforcing the law. We will not leave this matter,” said Lesego Makhubela of the local branch of the ANC Youth League.
Outside, the protesters carried posters demanding Metro Police “stop killing traders”, hurled insults at passing officers and chased a female officer down Francis Baard (formerly Schoeman) Street, pelting her with stones.
“We don’t want Marikana here where innocent people are killed by police. There will be no Marikana in Tshwane,” Makhubela said.
When a mealie vendor pushed his trolley past the court, the protesters looted it and ate his mealies.
Sweet vendor Almond Mika Bila, 21, who said he witnessed the shooting, claimed Rivambo spent hours in the back of a police van before an ambulance arrived.
Bila said the altercation started when Rivambo told the police to stop beating up his brother.
“They asked what he would do and started slapping him. They sprayed him with pepper spray. When he tried to flee, an officer shot him in the stomach,” he said.
Rivambo was loaded into the back of a police van with the four suspects who appeared in court.
“An ambulance came to take away the injured officers and only after an hour another ambulance came for Rivambo. When he was allowed out of the van he was weak, powerless and dying,” Bila said.
“Why do they (the police) shoot a 20-year-old? He was a child. How can you shoot someone who is trying to earn a livelihood?” vendor Titus Mukhabelo wanted to know.
Shoes Maloka, chairman of the Tshwane Barekisi Forum, said vendors are not criminals and are just trying to make an honest living.
“They must stop coming to us with their big guns. We are working and creating jobs,” Maloka said, adding the City must provide every hawker with a stall and a licence.
“They must stop these operations because they take our stock and don’t return our licences after checking them,” Maloka said.
Rivambo’s older brother, Solly Rivambo, 27, a hawker on the same street who lives in a shack in Salvokop, said he has no idea how his family could afford a funeral for his brother. His parents could not afford to fetch their son’s remains.
“He was the nicest guy and he was quiet. He never fought and did not even drink or smoke,” said Solly.
Rivambo was the father of a three-month-old baby boy.
“We don’t know what will happen to the baby because there is no money. No one works and there just isn’t any money,” Solly said.
Maloka said they would take to the streets again on Monday and “bring the city to a standstill”.
The four suspects will appear in court again on January 17 and will remain in custody.
Both the DA and the Workers and Socialist Party have condemned the killing, demanding a proper investigation into the incident.
“The City regrets the loss of life and once again urges all operators of small business and hawking stands to approach the Economic Development office should they require the appropriate trading licences,” council spokesman Blessing Manale said yesterday.
“The City will fully co-operate with the Independent Police Investigation Directorate should it pursue an investigation from a “police conduct” point of view”
- Pretoria News