A group of street vendors has been thrown in the wind after their property was haphazardly scattered all over the street in the Maseru city bus stop area on Wednesday without warning.
Newsday established that the vendors who ply their trade outside the Fairways Mall, owned by the Lesotho Evangelical Church in Southern Africa (LECSA) had their small business sheds and tables taken away by a truck.
The hostile takeover is said to have been necessitated by the wails of some foreign (mostly Asians-Chinese) proprietors to the landlord (the Church) about the invasion of the space by street vendors whom they are said to have alleged pitch their shacks in front of their businesses thus obscuring view of these shops whose owners pay rent and taxes. They are said to have even claimed that the vendors were now even selling products similar to theirs thus beating them at business.
This publication heard accounts of the merchants who said they had woken up expecting the day to start as a normal business day wherein they could sell their products, but to their dismay found their shacks ripped to shreds.
“We have never been given a warning or told to clear out this place before,” Thabiso ‘Musi, one of the vendors told Newsday that being banished from the place has severed them a low blow as they eke out a living selling in the streets.
“There is no other place where we get our income except selling the little products we have,” ‘Musi continued.
The vendors lamented that it is going to cost a lot of money to start a new business as they have to dig deep in their already penniless pockets.
‘Marorisang Moseme told this publication that it is going to be a mountain to climb in order to buy books for her little child who came with a list of books from school.
She said it was disheartening to find her things dismantled, and scattered all over.
“It is going to be costly to start again; it is going to cost me a lot of money. Yesterday, my child came to me with a list of books from school which have to be purchased. How will I get the money for her books in this kind of situation,” she said, adding that they were informed some of their “our things were taken to the police station and we could go claim them from there”.
“It is really hurtful to see the equipment of our colleagues being taken away in front of our eyes, some of the owners of the equipment being taken away are away in Gauteng to buy stock, and they are going to be devastated to find their tents, tables and many other things missing,” she said.
Moseme further explained that they tried to plead with the police officers who were armed to the tooth, stuffing their staff in a truck, to at least let them (vendors) remove their belongings themselves, but their cries fell on deaf ears of their tormentor.
“We have been removed here by the rich people,” she wailed.
The Fairways buildings belongs to the Sefika LECSA church, upon the arrival of this publication, it was referred to KEL Properties, an entity that deals with properties of the LECSA properties in Lesotho. Upon the arrival, this publication was told that they were not aware of any such acts taking place at their properties.
The Police assistant spokesperson Sub-Inspector ‘Mareabetsoe Mofoka could not be reached from her phone for a comment concerning the armed police officers attending the eviction of the street vendors on their spots.