Vendors free to reclaim seized perishables – minister

Zimstar News

Home Affairs deputy minister Marian Chombo says vendors who have perishable goods seized by municipal police for operating illegally are free to reclaim the items soon after paying fines.

This follows concerns by MPs that men and women eking out a living through street selling often suffer the double misfortune of being fined for the vice and losing their wares to the state.

Speaking during parliament’s question and answer session recently, Mashonaland West proportional representation MP Goodluck Kwaramba asked Chombo what on happens to perishable like onions and tomatoes often confiscated from informal traders by operatives.

In her response, Chombo said while she could not account for goods confiscated by the ZRP, she was aware wares confiscated by municipal police can be recovered within a 24-hour timeframe.

“We are fully aware that if, for instance, the goods are perishables and they are confiscated by the municipal police – because if it is the ZRP, they fall under Home Affairs but if it is the municipal police, definitely within at least about 24 hours, they will be rotten but in most cases, if they are fined, we encourage them to collect their wares if they are still saleable,” she said.

Chombo said if the vendors encounter problems with some local authorities, they were free to raise complaints with her ministry.

She admitted the process runs into challenges when most vendors operating illegally abandon their goods on sight of the police and would not ordinarily brave attempts to reclaim the goods for fear of arrests.

The minister encouraged vendors to try to legalise their operations and operate from designated sites.

Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said he was not aware of any incidents in which officers from the ZRP were “eating” the perishable goods as alleged.

The High Court recently issued an order for police in Chegutu to return all the wares taken from the vendors.

Also commenting on an almost similar matter, Justice minister and leader if the house Ziyambi Ziyambi said goods confiscated by Zimra are put to auction or are donated to social welfare, “depending on their regulations at that time”.

He added, “If it is the police and the courts, it will be forfeited to the State and the State can auction the said goods again.”

“…If it is ZIMRA, they give you timelines when your goods are impounded before they are forfeited. So, within that timeline, you have to follow due process to ensure that you satisfy them that the goods must be released to you.

“Regarding the court process, if the goods are found to be proceeds of a crime, they will be forfeited.

“So, whether you pass on or not, that will not arise because they would have been forfeited but if it is ZIMRA, they give you a leeway to prove your case. If you fail, then they are forfeited to the State.”