But on Thursday she watched helplessly as Ekurhuleni Metro cops burned down the makeshift stall where she cooked.
“The cops never gave us any warning,” said angry Maria from Esselen Park in Tembisa.
“They just threw our pots to one side and set our stalls on fire. We begged for mercy but they wouldn’t stop.”
She said the cops normally just confiscate their equipment.
“Then we have to pay a fine to release our things, but this time they burnt our stalls,” she said.
“We don’t have jobs. We make a living by selling food on the roadside.”
Maria said seven stalls were burnt down.
Another hawker, Anita Manyike, said they used to remove their sails in the evening to make sure thugs didn’t hide in the stalls.
“We could understand the cops’ action if we left our stalls covered and provided a hiding place for thugs, but we never did this,” she said. “Now I have to raise R500 to buy another sail. My child has to go to university but I don’t have any money. My livelihood has been destroyed.”
Local councillor Mcedisi Lugongolo said he’s in the process of arranging permits for the hawkers so they can trade freely without being bothered by the police.
Ekurhuleni Metro Superintendent Wilfred Kgasago said he will find out what happened.