Ongwediva — The police in Outapi yesterday had to use pepper spray to disperse about 100 street vendors who went on an angry rampage, after the police allegedly confiscated and threw away the goods they were selling. Amongst those teargassed indiscriminately were three toddlers strapped on their mothers' backs, witnesses said. Four suspects from the group were allegedly taken in for questioning, after the vendors allegedly threw stones at the police, targeting vehicles that were disposed to the scene to quell the riot.
Regional Crime Investigation Coordinator in the Omusati Region, Deputy Commissioner Moses Simaho said the police was dispatched to restore order and ensure the vendors heed the call by the Outapi Town Council.
Simaho refuted allegations the police confiscated or destroyed any items as claimed by vendors. "When the police were called to the scene, the vendors started throwing stones towards the police, and the police had to use pepper spray to disperse them," said Simaho.
The council had issued a directive which prohibits street vendors from selling from the streets as from November 5.
The alternative was that the vendors move to the established open markets at the town.
However, the street vendors were adamant that the locality of the open market where they are being forced to trade was not market friendly as it is shielded from customers.
"How are we expected to make an income and provide for our families if we are pushed at an area that does not have customers?" queried of the vendors.
The vendors also charged the council is prohibiting them from making an income, because they had previously prohibited the mothers from selling with their babies on their backs.
"They do not even allow the babies to enter the market. But where should we live our kids if we cannot even afford to pay for someone to look after them?" queried another vendor.
Meanwhile, a one-year-old boy at Outapi succumbed to injuries last week after he allegedly fell in a pot of boiling oil at the Olefa Open Market.
The boy's mother who is a vendor at the market left the child in the care of another vendor while she went to the market.
The boy succumbed to injuries two days later at the Outapi Intermediate Hospital.