Riot Police Fire Live Bullets and Teargas at Vendors in Khartoum

Heavy clashes broke out in Khartoum this afternoon between the police and street vendor owners of Suk Afrengi. The Khartoum state police arrived in 10 landcruiser pickups at Suk Afrengi Market in downtown Khartoum and fired live bullets to disperse the street vendors who are predominately boys from South Sudan.

The police fired live bullets and teargas after they were scattered by the vendors who were armed with sticks and stood along the Al-Gama Street (main Street dividing Al-Arabi market and Afrengi market in central Khartoum). The police, who reportedly withdrew but later came back in large numbers, seized control of the market as they fired randomly live bullets and teargases that forced everybody to leave the vicinity.

Speaking to Gurtong at Suk Afrengi market after the riot was calmed, Mr. Gabriel Malwal, 28 year-old Dinka from Aweil, Northern Bahr al Ghazal and Mr. David Chan Chol,24 year-old Nuer from Jonglei stated that they sold shoes and other goods like perfumes, clothes, belts, watches and mobile phones.
Gabriel Malwal said that the incident was started by a police officer who approached the Suk Afrengi vendors and demanded the daily payment they receive as 'kick-back' from the street vendors, which amounts to 2 million Sudanese Pounds a day. Malwal added that each boy who sold in front of shops at Afrengi markets paid 5,000 Sudanese Pounds daily. The number of Southern youth selling at the market was more than 500 and that the money collected by the police was one million Sudanese pounds; in the morning and evening, respectively, he claimed.

When the police officer arrived to collect the money, he was told there was no money because the police men entrusted with the collection were not around and the vendors had paid another officer. The officer got annoyed and ordered his collegues to confiscate the goods on sale that included clothing items, mobile phones, perfumes, belts, watches and digital cameras. Some of the vendors then approached the officer demanding that their goods be returned as they had already paid another officer who came earlier.
The officer refused and fighting broke out between the vendors trying to retrieve their goods by force from police truck and police. Chan stated that the police reacted by firing live bullets and throwing teargas canisters in the air to scare the street vendors while forcibly taking their goods.
The street vendors confirmed that one of the boy sellers was beaten up and received a serious head wound before being taken away to unknown place of custody following resistance to the police for the taking of his goods. The vendors who witnessed and were part of the fracas told Gurtong that the boy was thrown from the lorry on to the Al-Gamma street where he knocked his head against the tarmac.

40 year old Awak Chol, a Dinka street vendor selling shoes, mobile phones and digital cameras, told SRS that everyday the police demanded money, telling them to pay 2,000 Sudanese pounds for each carton that contained goods. In addition, every morning each person selling goods paid 5,000 Sudanese pounds and likewise in the evening.
Chol was quoted as saying that, "if one of us is arrested by the police, he must pay an amount of 100,000 Sudanese pounds before being released. Everyday, we pay a total of 2 million Sudanese pounds to the Khartoum locality in order to get an approval to sell our goods, or we are not allowed at all.”
"To get a license to operate on a monthly basis, a vendor with a table pays an amount ranging from 10,000 to 50,000 Sudanese pounds depending on the size of the table, but the police normally disregard these receipts preferring only to get their daily share of the bribes to stop raids on us.”

Another vendor, Mr. Maluk, added that on October 30, police came in two cars to collect the

Posted in: Governance
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