Cops fire rubber bullets in Sasolburg

2013-01-22 12:41
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Sasolburg chaos

A violent municipal demarcation protest led to 187 people being arrested. See all the pictures.

Sasolburg - Free State police fired rubber bullets at protesters in Sasolburg on Tuesday, for the second day running.

The police had blocked a road leading to the central business district in an effort to prevent protesters marching into town. They tried to force their way through the blockade, causing the police to fire rubber bullets.

The protesters had moved from the Moses Kotane Stadium in Zamdela, where they had gathered earlier believing that Co-operative Governance and Public Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi was coming to speak to them.

Residents said they had heard on a local radio station that Baloyi was on his way there. Others said they expected Free State Premier Ace Magushule to arrive.

‘We are going to Parys’

By 10:00, however, residents grew tired of waiting and started singing and pointing at their wrists. The crowd left the stadium singing "Ace wanyela" [Ace is shitting on us].

Police followed the crowd in armoured Nyalas.

A protester, Vusi Thwala, 26, who was carrying a beer bottle and slurring his words, said: "From here (Moses Kotane Stadium) we are going to town to take alcohol and go to Parys."

The protests were sparked by plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe local municipality, under which Parys fell.

Earlier on Tuesday, a knife-wielding protester threatened a Sapa journalist while he was filming a crowd dancing at the stadium.

"A man in his mid-20s, who wore a colourful bandanna and no shirt, approached me and asked why I was shooting [footage] and that I should stop," Sapa cameraman Vumani Mkhize said.

"I ignored him and the man again said that I should only start shooting when Ace Magashule arrives. He then pulled out a knife in full view of the crowd. I picked up my camera equipment and started to walk away.

"He then walked towards me and asked to look at my equipment. I ignored him and walked away."
The protester left Mkhize alone.

187 people arrested

Roads in the area were covered with burnt debris on Tuesday. A police helicopter hovered overhead.

Police said 187 people had been arrested since Sunday in the protests.

On Monday, protesters set two trucks alight and injured two police officers inside a Nyala, which had became stuck in mud.

Water cannons and rubber bullets were used to disperse the crowd. Some residents barricaded roads and threw stones at police cars.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  protests

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