444 warned after violent clashes

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

There were scenes of jubilation outside the Durban magistrates' court yesterday as relatives hugged family members facing public violence charges who were released on warnings.

Reports indicate 444 hawkers were arrested outside the court on Tuesday for disturbing court proceedings. They had marched to the court to demand the release of their 24 colleagues, who had been arrested on Monday during a scuffle with police.

For two days there were running battles between police and street traders in Durban. The standoff began in the early hours of Monday as metro police began cleaning up Durban's Warwick Avenue by confiscating goods belonging to unlicensed hawkers.

Incensed hawkers pelted police with stones, fruit and planks. The police retaliated by firing rubber bullets, stun grenades and water canons to disperse them. Four metro police officers were injured, one seriously, and 24 people were arrested.

On Tuesday, hawkers damaged property on their way to court. They could not contain their anger when they were told those arrested would only appear yesterday. The protesters were arrested in the ensuing violence.