Vendors rap police over ’opaque’ sale of seized wares

GWERU vendors have rapped police over the auctioning of confiscated wares, which they said were less than the quantities seized.

BY BRENNA MATENERE

Lovemore Reketayi, the Gweru Vendors’ Association chairperson, said his members suspected that police had converted some of their confiscated wares to personal use.

In November last year, the law enforcement agents swooped on vendors at Kudzanayi long-distance bus terminus and confiscated basic food commodities and other items, including cooking oil, sugar, soap, rice and beverages in a clean-up campaign.

Police accused the traders of trading illegally and without licences.

The goods were auctioned at Gweru Central Police Station on Tuesday.

“The vendors are not happy because almost 90% of the goods that were taken from them were not brought out for the auction,” Reketayi said.

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“Personally, I lost about R40 000 worth of goods that I was keeping in my cloakroom on behalf of some travellers when police alleged I was selling them illegally.

However, the quantities at the auction were far too low than what was taken from me alone, not talking of other vendors. It looks like police stole our goods.”

He also said most people who had not followed up with the police when their goods were confiscated, were the most affected.

“There are vendors who just sat back when their goods were confiscated, thinking they would be returned on the basis of court challenges by their colleagues. These are the most affected because they now have been told by the police that their goods can no longer be traced,” Reketayi said.

Midlands provincial police spokesperson Inspector Joel Goko, however, exonerated the police from the issue.

“The auction was above board and all the goods that were supposed to be auctioned were out. We are over 6 000 police (officers) in Midlands and so how could we have shared those goods or reached an agreement to do so without the act being leaked out?” he said.

“The other thing vendors must know is that not all goods are auctioned. The courts may decide that some be given to prisons or hospitals. So it is unfair for vendors to say police stole their goods.”

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