Clashes break out in South African township

At least two injured after protesters scuffle with police over poor service delivery in Bekkersdal, near Johannesburg.

Last Modified: 25 Oct 2013 07:15
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Tensions are running high in the townships, with millions of South Africans disgruntled with the economy [EPA]

At least two people have been shot and wounded while several illegal firearms have been confiscated following protests in the South African township of Bekkersdal.

Residents of the township, about 40km west of Johannesburg, clashed with police on Thursday after demonstrations against poor municipal services quickly slipped out of control with protesters throwing rocks and police responding with rubber bullets.

Some protesters were armed with iron rods and home-made machetes, while others tore down pieces of railing to create roadblocks.

A police spokesperson said several people had been arrested. It was the third such day of protests and turmoil in the township. Bekkersdal residents first took to the streets more than a month ago, demanding the municipality be dissolved.

Protesters are angry about what they call a lack of "'service delivery" - the term used to describe municipal services such as street maintenance, rubbish collection, and the provision of power and water.

Bekkersdal residents complain that their poorly managed local authority is failing them on all counts, and are calling for the mayor and councillors to resign.

Last week, 35 protesters were arrested after a police station in Bekkersdal was attacked with petrol bombs and stones. Tensions are running high in South African townships, often underdeveloped residential areas on the perfiphery of cities, with millions of residents disgruntled with the state of the economy.

South Africa's 2011 census found that about 1.3 million youth between the ages of 20 and 24 were unemployed and 417,000 others had given up looking for employment. 

In August, Gareth Newham, head of the crime and justice programme at the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), told Al Jazeera there were on average three violent anti-government protests in South Africa every day.


Al Jazeera and agencies
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