Illegal hawker spends 12 hours under minibus to avoid arrest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 August, 2003, 12:00am

The wheelchair-bound woman hid on Saturday night and only emerged yesterday morning

A wheelchair-bound hawker crawled under a government minibus in Tsim Sha Tsui and refused to come out for almost 12 hours yesterday to avoid being arrested by Food and Environmental Hygiene Department officers.

A few days earlier, officers gave the woman, who is about 40 years old, a verbal warning for illegally selling accessories near 20 Granville Road.

On Saturday night, the woman was selling products on the same street when the officers patrolled the area about 9pm.

When she saw the officers, she crawled under their vehicle, a government spokeswoman said.

The officers called police after the woman refused to come out. She was given a cup of orange juice and covered her face with a towel.

Negotiations between the woman and police went on for several hours, during which time she said department officers had been singling her out.

The woman finally agreed to come out at 9.53am yesterday after police and department officers promised they would not arrest her or give her a ticket.

A police officer drove her car to the minibus and helped her into it. She then drove away, leaving her wheelchair behind. The woman appeared to be unhurt, a police spokesman said.

The hygiene department's hawker-control unit is in charge of arresting illegal hawkers. Last year, there were 16,816 convictions over hawker-related offences, according to the department, and as of December, there were about 3,200 unlicensed hawkers.

Department officers give verbal warnings to unlicensed hawkers caught selling non-edible dry goods when they do not pose a food or environmental hygiene threat. If the warning is ignored, it is followed by arrest and seizure of the hawker's goods.