Mob besieges Sasolburg police station

2013-01-22 14:16
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Sasolburg chaos

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

Sasolburg - Angry crowds of protesters surrounded a police station in Sasolburg on Tuesday as bloody riots threatened to turn deadly, police said.

"We ourselves are under attack at Zamdela police station," a nervous female police officer said by telephone.

"The mob is now attacking. They are surrounding the building. They're trying to break in," she told AFP in a shaky voice. The officer refused to give her name.

Car, shop set alight

Police fired rubber bullets and water cannon to disperse thousands of protestors in Zamdela, outside Sasolburg.

Sapa reported that a shop and a car were also set alight during violent protests on Tuesday.

As the shop burned some residents watched in dismay.

"They stole from it yesterday. Why are they burning it now and where are we going to buy?" asked a woman.

"We are tired of this now," said another.

In another street, a car was set alight and another was overturned.

Journalists attacked

A French photographer was hit on the head with rocks.

"We were driving out of the informal settlement ... and a group of about 20 (to) 40 guys turned on the car and started pelting it with rocks," said Alon Skuy, photographer with The Times newspaper.

"We drove through to try to escape. All the windows were broken. In the process (the photographer) was hit in the head. She went immediately to hospital. She's fine now," he told AFP by phone.

Jacaranda radio journalist Aldrin Sampear's car was struck with knobkerries and stones while he was inside the vehicle. Protesters threatened to set it on fire.

"I've never been so scared... it was a very scary experience, I now know how it feels when motorists pass the protesters," he said. He was helped by a protester he had interviewed on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, a man threatened a Sapa journalist with a knife while he was filming a crowd dancing at the local stadium.

Knife

"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 [Free State premier] 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 then left Mkhize alone.

Around 190 people have been arrested since Sunday, according to Sapa.

The violence, which started on Sunday, was sparked by plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe local municipality, under which Parys falls.

- AFP and Sapa


- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  protests  |  local government
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