Fresh violence breaks out in Relela

2014-01-30 10:27

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Victor Seseletsa struggled to sleep last night after his shop was burnt down by angry community members who accused him of killing his neighbour’s three-year-old child.

This morning, he watched helplessly from a police Nyala as his three cars and his house were razed to ashes after being torched by angry protesters.

The situation has not improved in Bolobedu South outside Tzaneen in Limpopo, where three people have allegedly been killed by the police in Relela since the protest began four days ago.

The protests followed the gruesome discovery of the body of 20-year-old Kgomotso Ragolane on Friday. Her hand was missing and her house keys and cellphone were found inside her sliced stomach.

The homes of two people taken in for questioning by the police were burnt down at the weekend, but the pair could not be linked to Ragolane’s murder.

Read: Cops feared for their lives, says Riah Phiyega on protesters’ deaths

The violent protests then migrated to Kubjana village, which is about 5km from Relela. This is where Seseletsa’s property was burnt down. Seseletsa said he was accused of murdering a child who was found dead in his car.

“I came from work at about 7.20pm on Wednesday and found my car with the lights on. My five-year-old daughter was on the front seat and there was a child at the back who was lying with her face down; they were trapped inside the car,” he said.

“I opened the car and realised that the child at the back was already dead and that’s when I called the police. Later, the community turned and accused me of killing the child and burnt down my shop, but I believe the children could have been playing when they went into the car and got locked inside.”

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe confirmed the death of a three-year-old girl.

He said an inquest docket was opened and police were still investigating. Ngoepe said senior police officials and community leaders went into Kubjana this morning to urge the community to allow the police to do their work and investigate all cases, but were met by a volatile mob.

“Those officers and officials were cornered, but they managed to escape and get into a Nyala. It is very tense inside the village, but we’re monitoring the situation and calling in more resources,” Ngoepe said.

There were reports that an SABC TV crew was also trapped in the village, and protesters were threatening to set their car on fire.

At one entry point into the village, a group of boys were stopping cars entering and exiting the villages, asking for money for petrol.

Journalists were escorted to a place outside the villages where they waited with the police. They had been advised not to go anywhere near the villages.

Later this morning, they were advised to move further away because the protesters were getting closer.

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