Street vendors in downtown Polokwane have had enough of being threatened and their customers being robbed by a gang of eight youths armed with knives with the Police allegedly doing nothing about the situation.
Speaking to Polokwane Observer on condition of anonymity, one vendor explained the situation. “The young men are known to all of us but everyone is afraid of them. They are operating on the streets between Rissik and Devenish streets and Market and Church streets. These lawless citizens target mostly foreigners or people from out of the city. They conduct smash and grab robberies and mug people on the sidewalks.”
He further said he had prevented one robbery from taking place right in front of where he sells his goods and the robbers turned on him, one with a knife, telling him to mind his own business and they would mind theirs.
“I have reported the matter to the Police several times, even escalating my complaints to top management to no avail. I also reported the matter to the hawkers’ association who said they would speak to the Police.
“These criminals seem to have a source within the Police and/or the hawkers’ association who informs them each time I report them. They also know when the Police are in the area and do a disappearing trick.”
The angry and frustrated vendor said he and his fellow vendors know exactly what the eight youths look like and would be able to point them out to the Police.
Several other vendors in the area confirmed his allegations. They further said the gang was threatening their livelihood as people passing by their vending stalls were too afraid to take money out on the street to purchase anything and motorists would not stop in the area anymore.
Polokwane Observer attempted to contact the hawkers’ association operating in the area several times over the past few days, however, the number provided rang without being answered.
Polokwane Police Spokesperson Lesiba Ramoshaba thanked Polokwane Observer for the information and said the Police are aware of these challenges. “We will intensify our patrol at this and other problematic areas. Hawkers or anyone in the city must feel free to contact us and work with us to combat crime,” he said.
He further said if anyone has sensitive information they could contact the Station Commander Gift Makhubele on 082 778 7267 or André Kotze on 082 414 2314.