Police ‘steal’ from vendors

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By Kefiloe Kajane

Street vendors are accusing police of taking advantage of the lockdown restrictions to steal from them.

Vendors are among the businesses prohibited from operating under the new restrictions announced by Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro last week, a move that has triggered widespread condemnation as large foreign-owned retails remain operational, selling the same goods that vendors are barred from selling.

Vendors that defied government’s order to stay at home told theReporter on Monday saying cops have been confiscating their stock over the past few days.

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Street vendor ‘Maseithati Matjama said her stock was seized on Sunday as she was selling on the streets, but she later got it back and went back to sell again the following day.

This publication visited the Pitso Ground Police Station and saw a pile of the allegedly seized vegetables.

Some of the vendors claim they could not find their goods when they attempted to plea with the station authorities to release their goods. A senior officer allegedly denied cognizance of goods that matched the vendors’ description.

This has led to the vendors suspecting that the cops may have diverted the goods, either for personal consumption or to sell off. They could not hide their disgust at the fact that the large retailers continue to make money while Basotho who live from hand to mouth are denied that opportunity. They further regretted that they cannot force the foreign-owned supermarkets to close down for fear of being gunned down by police who along with politicians, are controlled by the foreigners.

Commenting on the allegations, police spokesperson Senior Superintend Mpiti Mopeli reiterated that country is currently under lockdown and street vendors are also affected by restrictions. He said he was not aware of the vendors’ claims as he is currently not in office.