Police vowed to return to the Johannesburg CBD to conduct a raid on a building after being forced to withdraw when they were pelted with rocks by a large crowd on Thursday. This comes as the Gauteng Premier vowed to beef up this efforts to regulate informal traders in the area with support from the Revenue Services and Home Affairs.
Gauteng Premier Spokesperson, Vuyo Mhaga says on Thursdays the premier goes out on Operation O kae Molao.
“Every Thursday, the premier is out on Operation O kae Molao. That is the police, SARS, Home Affairs, the liquor board. So, whilst those operations are already ongoing we managed to seize some of the goods throughout the province. So, it’s not only the police. Naturally, the premier would want, therefore, to say ‘how do we then respond to this particular situation of yesterday using the ‘O kae Molao’ setup,” says Mhaga.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has expressed deep sadness over Thursday’s chaos that erupted in the inner city when law enforcement agencies attempted to confiscate counterfeit goods from informal traders.
Mashaba says he would have expected the city to be closed off and all criminals behind bars by now.
“Being bold is not about breaking the law because two wrongs cannot make a right. I don’t have the powers as the Metro to arrest these people, prosecute them and put them in the jail. The city of JHB doesn’t have prosecutors. The city doesn’t have prisons and Home Affairs to process people, to ensure that they are legally (here). So, I don’t have those powers. If I can try and do that I’d be breaking the law and acting against the constitution,” says Mashaba.
The Africa Diaspora says there’s a complete abuse of the rights of foreign nationals in the City of Johannesburg. It says it is not opposed to authorities doing their job by raiding shops, but it must be done legally.
Vusimusi Banda, from the Africa Diaspora, reacted to the violence that erupted in the CBD.
“We met the Johannesburg Station Commander. I think it was on the 10th of June. In our discussions, we agreed that if there is an operation, even if it happens in the morning, as the Africa Diaspora, they can tell us right in the morning. We can come here so that we can see that everything is done within the confines of the law, but that’s not what’s happening. There’s complete and blatant abuse of the rights of the people that are here because nobody thinks they are worth protecting,” says Banda.
Foreign female hawkers have pleaded for protection from abuse by the police during raids at their shops in the Johannesburg CBD.
An emotional Mesi Mulat from Ethiopia says during the previous raid by the police she was pushed and shoved on the floor while she was pregnant. Mulat says police should themselves operate within the law.
“We need protection. Now I’m afraid to come to town because I was pregnant … he pushed me in the wall. No one here gave me an ear to hear my problem; even my brothers, they can’t help me because they arrest (sic) them. We want woman’s rights (organisations) to hear us. Please, we beg you. We are Africans; we are your sisters, please listen,” says Mulat.