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Street vendors cry foul in wake of Operation Shanela

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele officially launched Operation Shanela in Durban on Saturday. Picture: SAPS

Minister of Police, Bheki Cele officially launched Operation Shanela in Durban on Saturday. Picture: SAPS

Published Aug 21, 2023


Durban — A swift operation by Police Minister Bheki Cele in the Durban CBD on Saturday left many street vendors devastated after their businesses were shut down for not having vending permits.

Most of the affected vendors took to social media to vent their anger after their businesses were abruptly shut down and they were asked to vacate the spaces they were occupying.

Mnce Tpain who has gained massive popularity with his street braai food under the bridge at the Workshop Shopping Centre, wrote on his Facebook page he desperately needed to find a new location for his business as he can no longer trade in his usual spot because he does not have the required documents.

“Today I had a special unexpected visitor, (Police Minister) Bheki Cele. Although I won’t divulge much, all my pleading is for you is to help me find a new location, preferably a store I can rent at a reasonable price. This is for my employees who really depend on the little money we make with this business,” said Mnce.

He needed new premises, he said, because he wanted to do his business peacefully.

Cele was accompanied by a group of men and women in uniform including national police commissioner General Fannie Masemola and provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi. They were in Durban to officially launch the high-density Operation Shanela after the release of the recent crime statistics on Friday.

Another vendor, Thobani Ndwandwe, said: “Our government is failing us, we are still trying to recover from the loss of jobs due to the pandemic. This is my only way of putting food on the table. The government is forcing us to resort to crime because they are shattering our small means to earn an income. Why don’t they go after the criminals who are terrorising innocent people on every corner of the city centre,” he said.

Concerned Informal Vendors leader Themba Mkhize said the purpose of the operation would only be fruitful if the police first dealt with the ongoing corruption of selling vending permits.

“Permits are given to foreign nationals who can afford to buy these permits priced from R30 000. This has been happening since 2010. They must channel their energy into fighting that corruption and the rife criminal activities scourging the city centre,” said Mkhize.

Cele’s spokesperson, Lirandzu Themba, said: “Enforcement of the law cannot be selective, anyone who transgresses will be prosecuted.

“We have noted a serious dent in crime since the commencement of the operation on May 8. We have also picked up that criminals are starting to shift, meaning Shanela is squeezing the space for criminality.”

The operation created an opportunity for normal policing to take place for the remainder of the week, she said.

“Its core pillars are to prevent crime, trace wanted suspects and enforce the law through high police visibility. Without a doubt it is effective,” said Themba.

Meanwhile, the recent crime statistics released on Friday revealed that three Durban areas led the pack when it came to serious crimes, with Durban Central always at the top.

“Inanda and uMlazi were murder capitals, with the former police station leading in reported murders. This means all of us at local, provincial level and national levels will have to focus on Inanda. We will have to work hard to remove it from that notorious no 1 position,” said Cele, as he announced the crime stats.

Cele said KZN leads in mass shootings and Durban is part of that. “If it is not Glebelands Hostel, it is somewhere in the west of Durban. I don’t know who told criminals that is their place and then at the hostels. Both hostels of Glebelands and KwaMashu give us a headache,” said Cele.

He said scaling up visible policing, conducting disruptive operations targeting high crime areas and tracing wanted suspects were proving to be effective tools to bring down the crime rate.

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