A Zimbabwean court has ruled that security forces may not oust thousands of street vendors.

High Court Judge Felistas Chatukuta ruled Monday that the government may not use force to move vendors from sidewalks in cities around the country. The court made the ruling after it was approached by a group of vendors with little economic prospects other than informal trade.

Last week, officials gave vendors until Sunday to move, threatening to send in the army if they did not heed the deadline.

Tendai Mahachi, town clerk of the capital Harare, told the Associated Press that the deadline for unlicensed vendors to leave was extended until Jun. 26.

Sithembiso Nyoni, the enterprises and development minister, said extra time was allowed so that the government could allocate stalls to the vendors.