400 hawkers warned after violent clashes

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

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

Those who had faced charges were released on warnings. According to reports 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 street traders and the police in Durban.

The standoff began in the early hours of Monday as Durban 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 the crowd. Four metro police officers were injured, one seriously, and 24 people were arrested. On Tuesday, hawkers on their way to court, went on rampage and property was damaged.

They could not contain their anger and their fury escalated when they arrived in court and were told that those arrested would only appear on Wednesday.

The protesters were arrested in the ensuing violence.

The hawkers are due to appear again in court on July 27.