Traders cry foul over alleged abuse by police

2020-05-07 06:01
Meat vendors gathered outside Khayelitsha magistrate’s court to voice their concerns.PHOTO: mzwanele mkalipi

Meat vendors gathered outside Khayelitsha magistrate’s court to voice their concerns.PHOTO: mzwanele mkalipi

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Meat traders are up in arms and are demanding to be allowed to sell braai meat in three different areas in Khayelitsha.

On Monday 4 May, a handful of traders met near the Khayelitsha magistrate’s court to share their pain. They also spoke openly about alleged unfair treatment by the authorities.

The raders, mostly women, are from areas such as Makhaza, Town Two and Harare.

They are accusing police of heavy-handed approach towards them. They claim in other areas it is business as usual for traders.

The traders say their businesses have been hard hit and selling uncooked meat was problematic as they were not making enough money.

They say people choose to go and buy braai meat for a reason at their stands, not because they did not have meat in their fridges.

Meat trader Nosimo Nqweniso (63), from Town Two, said she has been a meat seller since 1989 and the business is her livelihood.

“We have built a clientele over the years and people know when they need braai meat we are there to provide it. Now we are told to sell meat that is not braai, but others in certain areas are continuing with business as usual, so we ask the question, why us?” she said.

“The raw meat gets easily spoilt when it is kept there in the sun for too long. We are only trying to make ends meet for ourselves and families with this business and are not fighting with anyone. Government should give hours to operate normally as before,” said Nqweniso.

Another vendor Nomanyano Sentse, from Harare, said she can only sell braai meat.

“We send our children to tertiary institutions with the money we make out of this business.

“Now, when you take this away from us what do you expect us to do to feed our children that are sitting at home as a result of this Covid-19. Coronavirus is not spread over smoke, so allow us to make fire, then we can do take-aways for our clients,” she said.

“Big companies are operating unhindered and have been given certain measures to follow.

“Why can’t they allow us to do the same? Those big companies that are operating have seen some of their staff testing positive, so what difference does this make,” she said.

Patricia Zoya said she depends on the meat business.

“I have seven children who depend on me. We are able to control our customers, so they don’t come closer to us. We appeal to be left to sell and would also do take-aways to limit numbers that converge here,” said Zoya, who sells meat at Victoria Mxenge Road between Endlovini and Harare.

Harare police spokesperson Capt Siyabulela Vukubi said the law that regulates fast food states that “no one is allowed to go and order food” at a restaurant or any other place that sells cooked food.

“People should order online and the food should be delivered to that person who place an order. The challenge with meat stands is that they lit a fire and as soon as their customers see smoke they queue for meat which is against the regulations,” he said.

Vukubi denied allegations that police threw meat on the ground when they found meat stand owners operating.

“They are not allowed to do that (throw meat on the ground). If so they have the right to report the matter,” he said.

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