Joburg police slammed for confiscating goods from traders

By Sihle Mlambo Time of article published Aug 16, 2021

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Johannesburg: Social media users have slammed the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) for confiscating goods from vendors, but the authorities have defended their actions, saying traders must comply with City of Johannesburg by-laws and desist from overcrowding during a pandemic.

During an operation on Monday, which the JMPD said was sparked by efforts to keep the city clean and to be a safe environment, officers said they conducted a high density by-law operation in the heart of Johannesburg, Hillbrow, Yeoville, Doornfontein, Fordsburg and Kensington.

As part of the operation, officers confiscated goods including fruits and vegetables, which are sold on pavements by vendors across the city.

The JMPD said vendors had to apply for permits, and failing which their goods would be impounded by officers, arguing that illegal trading on city pavements contributed to road accidents.

JMPD spokesperson, chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar, said the officers were acting in line with the Disaster Management Act and were concerned about the overcrowding in the Johannesburg and inner city areas.

“It's about getting the individuals who are in the city to comply with the regulations in that overcrowding is a very serious problem.

“The Disaster Management Act says people must maintain a social distance of at least 1.5metres, but in the CBD, individuals are congesting the areas on the pavements. This operation had to be done,” said Minnaar.

Minnaar said the JMPD officers confiscated truck loads of goods, including fruits and vegetables, as well as clothing and footwear.

He said the vendors could get their goods back by paying an inmpound fee of between R1 600 and R3 500.

Meanwhile some on social media have slammed the police for the operation.

On the criticism levelled at the JMPD, Minaar said: “This is just about the compliance of the Disaster Management Act, that's it.

“We cannot allow for over crowding as we know it is the number one reason for the Covid-19 infections.

“We have to getpeople not to overcrowd,” he said.

Minnaar said vendors were allowed to sell goods – except cooked food – without a licence, but they could not do so in some areas such as near ATMs, on pavements obstructing walkways, near parks and churches, near entrances and within five metres of an intersection.

“When pavements are congested, people also get forced to walk on the road, which causes road accidents,” he said.

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