Police face hawker ire

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Four policemen were injured, one of them seriously, during a clash with angry street hawkers in the Durban city centre yesterday morning.

Police were confiscating goods from unlicensed hawkers in Durban's Warwick Avenue Triangle.

The hawkers got angry and started pelting police with fruit, stones and planks.

Police retaliated by firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and water tanks. About 20 people were arrested.

Police denied that a handmade bomb was found on one of the protestors.

Thamsanqa Mazibuko, chairman of the Durban Management Board, accused police of provoking the hawkers.

"We don't know what they want from us. They have been after us for far too long.

"They arrest us for not having permits, though they know that we are still negotiating the issue with the metro council," he said.

Mazibuko said that they were supposed to meet with eThekwini municipality's business unit about the problem. The meeting would take place today.

"We have a meeting today and I don't know if it is still going to take place after the chaos," he said.

"Our members have been assaulted and arrested for standing their ground.

"Poor people remain poor in this city and they are failing to provide us with jobs," Mazibuko said.

Police spokesman Captain Michael Reed confirmed 24 people were arrested during a clash with hawkers.