Frustrated vendors demonstrate against city police harassment

Vendors plying their trade at the heart of Windhoek have said they have had enough of arrests and harassment by the city police and last week petitioned President Hage Geingob and the gender ministry to come to their rescue.

Armed with a petition with 50 names attached to it, they invaded the entrance of Shoprite along Independence Avenue and exploded into dance and protest songs holding Anti-city police placards.

Their leader, Fernanda Edwardo (28) told this publication that every vendor had been saved with a warrant of arrest and have outstanding fines of between N$3 000 to N$4 000 each.

So heavy is the financial burden imposed on them to the point that some have even been slapped with fines amounting to a whopping N$17 000, she told this publication.

They say they are further being crushed by the economic recession which has seen prices of basic commodities and transport shooting off the roof.

The only to salvage their children from the menacing teeth of hunger was to open shop right in the heart of the city, they said.

“Women are being jailed because of selling in the streets which is not fair. They are saying Namibia is independent and our President said nobody must be left out. We don’t have jobs. We sell to put food on the table for our kids and the city police take our stuff.”

“They keep us in jail and sometimes they keep our stuff for four days and then they call you to say come get your stuff. But when we get our stuff there are (things) missing. This is not fair. We spend money on those items. We want the city of Windhoek to stop arresting people selling on the streets,” she said.

In the petition, the vendors have notified the President that they were being terrorized on a daily basis and have to leave their children starving home each time they are locked up.

They said they were mothers trying to earn a living through “clean means”.

 “We are humbly requesting our President to intervene in this matter by putting an end to this and act in the best interest of women empowerment.”

They slammed the Act being used by city police to arrest them as an apartheid-era piece of legislation, Section 55 of the Criminal Procedure Act 1977 (Act 51 of 1977).

“We want to know why are we being prosecuted based on an apartheid act in a free Namibia? The police hardly ever harass male vendors, they are always targeting women,” they said.

They have given the office of the President until 14 November to resolve the situation failure of which they will lobby members of the public for a mass demonstration.

They also said if the police do not want them to wok then the government will have to roll out a basic income grant for all female vendors to get them off the streets.