Malawi Police teargas vendors in Lilongwe

Police in Malawi’s capital Lilongwe fired teargas to disperse angry street vendors who were reportedly protesting the arrest of their colleague.

But Lilongwe Police Station Spokesperson Ramsey Mushani, while confirming the development, downplayed the matter claiming the arrested person was an ordinary person and not a vendor.

“What exactly happened was that the police in the course of their duty patrols had arrested a suspect on grounds likely to cause breach of peace and not a vendor,” he said.

Teargas state

But reports indicate the unrest ensued after police arrested a vendor around the Lilongwe Minibus terminal for allegedly selling his items along the streets, a development that angered his fellow vendors who went into protest.

Eye witnesses told Malawi News Agency (MANA) after the arrest, the vendors went wild forcing the law enforcers to throw teargas at the angry vendors as a way of controlling the situation.

The vendors became aggressive and responded by stoning the police officers including their office (police unit) located near the minibus terminal.

“The police had arrested a person who was selling some items around the area. This consequently angered his fellow vendors who slowly started assembling to question the action of the police,” an eye witness said.

But when contacted for comment, Chairperson of the Lilongwe Vendors Association, James Yerayera Soko, said he was yet to receive any official communication.

“I have not received any official communication about the incident,” he said.

“I believe if anything like that happened, it could have been as a result of just a few vendors who insist on plying their trade on the streets despite the city council’s orders to stay away,” he added.

But the Lilongwe Police spokesperson said the situation was not as serious as reported and if there was any stoning, it could have been as a result of other people who just took advantage of the situation.

“As for the firing of the teargas, we do not have any official report on that matter as we here [Lilongwe Police Station] did not issue any teargas. However, we will have to further inquire on the matter,” he said.

The source further said the stoning by the alleged vendors resulted in many drivers of the minibuses and other vehicles who had parked around the scene to rush for safety.

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