Joburg hawkers’ lawyer arrested

2013-12-05 18:58

Mere hours after a Constitutional Court hearing this afternoon cleared street traders to return to their old spots in Johannesburg, the JMPD once again clashed with them and arrested their lawyer.

The incident occurred shortly before 6pm when a group of traders wanted to celebrate their victory by returning to their trading spots. A "huge contingent" of both JMPD and SAPS officers arrived to remove them. According to one trader representative up to a hundred traders were present.

The JMPD then arrested Nomzama Zondo, an attorney from the Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa (Seri) who has been representing the street traders in their court battle with the city. She was taken to the Johannesburg Central police station and is being charged with obstructing the police in their duties, she told City Press by SMS from the station.

When contacted for comment, Wayne Minnaar, the JMPD’s spokesperson, read City Press the “official response”.

“The JMPD has a legal mandate to enforce bylaws of the city. As for today’s court ruling, the JMPD will be advised by the legal department of Johannesburg.”

Zondo is also to be charged with "inciting traders to act against officers," he told City Press.

Minnaar said the traders were attempting to set up in spaces that had never been demarcated trading areas, not even before Operation Clean Sweep. As a result they were contravening bylaws despite the ConCourt ruling in their favour, he said.

Minnaar admitted that it was a "huge contingent" of officers, but says the crowd of traders was also very large.

He also confirmed that the crowd was dispersed with rubber bullets.

According to Matron Mahlangu, an organiser for the African Traders Organisation and the Workers Socialist Party, two people were also hit with rubber bullets in a confrontation near the corner of De Villiers and King George streets in the inner city, near the Noord Street Taxi rank.

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