Hawkers trash city streets
City of Tshwane metro police officers were drawn into running battles with unhappy street vendors yesterday, who took to the streets in protest over the city's bylaws.
Hawkers turned the usually clean CBD into a traffic nightmare as they overturned dustbins and dragged a fence that was erected to prevent them from setting up shop on the pavements into the one road.
In some areas, fires were started on pavements. The hawkers operated in groups and frustrated the police. As officers tried to clear one street, the hawkers would create similar chaos in the next street.
The protest started on Tuesday when hawkers buttoned up the well-known vibrant Marabastad business district, forcing every shop to close down.
The hawkers had been removed from the streets in an effort by the city to keep its business districts clean.
Hawkers also blocked the entrance of the Tshwane Fresh Produce Market, where they usually buy their stock, forcing trucks and bakkies that deliver and collect goods to turn back.
City officials destroyed illegal dwellings and shops built on council land last Wednesday. They also removed homeless people who slept in the street.
City spokesman Console Tleane said: "We are looking at bylaws. The issue is not about taking the livelihood of the traders but to make people trade legally and in the areas they are supposed to.
"This is part of a range of changes in the city and obviously when there are changes people will be unhappy. We hope that the situation will not get out hand," said Tleane.