Samantha Chigogo Herald Correspondent
Touts and vendors in Chitungwiza yesterday caused chaos in the town when they paraded a coffin of a tout who was fatally hit by a kombi fleeing from municipal police officers in Harare last Sunday.
The tout was run over during Harare City Council’s operation codenamed “Scorpion”, which was aimed at enforcing city by-laws meant to clear illegal passenger pick-up points popularly known as “mishikashika”.
Lazarus Chimwendo (31) was hit by the commuter omnibus at the corner of Julius Nyerere Way and Robson Manyika Avenue in running battles between kombi crews and municipal police.
He was rushed to a local hospital where he died on admission.
Eight people, including two Harare municipal traffic police officers and several other people, including passers-by were injured in the skirmishes.
The touts in Chitungwiza, who were visibly angry, paraded the coffin at Chitungwiza Town Council offices as a way of protesting against municipal raids in the town.
Business in the town came to a halt as the touts were joined by kombi drivers and vendors singing and chanting insults at municipal police and council officials.
They were blaming council officials for the death of their colleague.
“The way council operates has caused the death of one of our own, hence we have decided to parade his coffin at the council premises as a way of showing our anger and discomfort towards municipal police,” said one of the touts.
“Let them come up with better ways to deal with our mischief than this because we are afraid the situation will continue, but we will not surrender.”
The touts vowed to continue operating from undesignated points.
“We are warning municipal police against the way they handle us during these raids. We are not criminals but desperate people trying to make ends meet without stealing from anyone,” said another tout.
“If they take us from the streets where do they expect us to earn a living in these harsh economic times?
“Municipal police should just leave us alone to operate as we please as we are not disturbing anyone.”
Harare City Council has since launched an operation codenamed “Scorpion” which is aimed at enforcing city by-laws to clear illegal passenger pick-up points by pirate taxis.
The raids led to the arrest of over 40 touts during the operation.