Govt: Protesters used children as human shields

2014-02-05 18:10
(File, Sapa)

(File, Sapa)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg - Protesters used children as "human shields" during an attempt to burn down a police station and municipal offices, the government said on Wednesday, reacting to escalating violence by residents of poor townships who complain that state services are inadequate or expensive.

Separately, a protester was fatally shot and another was injured in a clash between two groups of protesters in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, police said.

Demonstrators blocked roads with rocks and burning tires during a protest over plans by the provincial housing authority for a development in the area, said local mayor Greta Hlongwane, according to Sapa.

The upheaval follows a surge in protests in communities in other parts of the country where the state struggles to deliver services, challenging the ruling African National Congress party ahead of elections this year.

Police responded to some violent protests with deadly gunfire, drawing criticism from human rights activists who say a culture of lawlessness has taken root among some segments of the police.

Police in Gauteng have dealt with 569 protest marches in the last three months, Lieutenant General Lesetja Mothiba, the acting police commissioner, told Sapa.

He said 122 of the protests were violent and he urged the public not to be "armchair critics" of a severely strained police force.

A section of a municipal office building in East London was damaged by fire on Wednesday, Eastern Cape police said.

Only a small section of the building was damaged in the fire, allegedly started by striking municipal workers, Captain Stephen Marais said.

Demonstrators set several buildings, including a clinic, on fire on Wednesday in Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria, to protest what they say are high electricity bills. There were no reported injuries.

Several dozen people were arrested in another violent protest in the area a day earlier. Last week, demonstrators there set a police station and other public facilities on fire.

The government referred to "a trend of using children as human shields during protests", citing an incident in which a group of teenagers led protesters who wanted to burn down a police station and other municipal offices in Bronkhorstspruit.

The use of children in such protests puts their education opportunities at risk, said Phumla Williams, a senior government spokesperson.

"This is a violation of fundamental human rights that may hinder children's development, potentially leading to lifelong psychological damage," Williams said in a statement. "We, therefore, urge parents who involve children in destroying public property and committing violence during protest to refrain from such behaviour."

Dozens of children, some in school uniform, were involved in protests in Bronkhorstspruit on Tuesday, and a public library was torched, according to The Citizen newspaper. It said one frustrated police officer shouted at the crowd: "You are burning your children's education. You are burning their books."

Read more on:    johannesburg  |  protests  |  service delivery protests

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Millions of plastic particles in our food!

Scientists and researchers believe that almost five million tons of plastic is dumped in the oceans every year and it’s affecting our food.



Plastic on your plate
Prince George the green prince?
Lean, green, drifiting machine
One man's $1 million vision for an eco Africa

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

Trying to keep time for your social commitments and friendships as well as taking care of work and health obligations can be more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.