BUSINESS was brought to a halt in Gweru’s Central Business District as police and vendors engaged in fierce battles after the street vendors defied a council directive to stop their open air operations following a typhoid outbreak.
Eight people have died due to typhoid in Gweru, while suspected cases have risen to over 1 500.
Vendors took to the streets armed with stones and other objects to pelt police and council vehicles, vowing to remain on pavements in front of OK Zimbabwe and Pick and Pay supermarkets.
Last week, the local authority and the Ministry of Local Government Public Works and National Housing jointly gave vendors a 48 hour ultimatum to vacate the CBD as part of their intervention strategies to combat typhoid.
Vendors however have stayed put prompting the local authority to engage police to assist in moving them off the streets and pavements. There was drama in the CDB from around 11am to around 3pm as police were stoned as they tried to shepherd vendors to designated selling points.
Big retailers such as Pick n Pay, OK Zimbabwe and other shops in the CBD were forced to close for business. Police scurried for cover as vendors attempted to set their vehicles on fire. Police had to unleash tear smoke to disperse the vendors.
Acting Midlands province police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Ethel Mukwende said police were helping municipal police to move the vendors from the streets and pavements in the CBD to designated selling points. She said police were not using force in doing so.