Police have broken up demonstrations in Johannesburg's Soweto township after residents bared their rears in protest over the bucket toilet system.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at the hundreds of people who had barricaded a road in Soweto on Wednesday, claiming their bucket toilets had not been emptied in over three months. 

"They [the protesters] were showing their bums by taking their trousers down on the street... to show their anger with service delivery issues," Kay Makhubela, a police spokeswoman, told the South African Press Association (Sapa).

Protesters squatted in the road and pretended to relieve themselves. Others emptied buckets of excrement on the road. 

No-one was injured or arrested during the demonstrations.

Trevor Ngwane, a community activist and social researcher, told Independent Online that people "who felt they weren’t being listened to always found desperate ways to appeal for attention".

It is estimated that that close to 300,000 homes around the country still use the bucket system.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said in 2013 that an "estimated 16 million people do not have access to adequate sanitation while 3.5 million do not have access to safe drinking water."

The SAHRC has also pronounced the bucket system as a human rights violation. 

The Democratic Alliance, the official opposition, said at the time that it was a disgrace that over two million households in the country were without toilets.

Statistics South Africa's said that around 5.3 percent of houses had no toilets or bucket toilets in 2012.

During the apartheid, black residents living in townships were given buckets instead of flush toilets.

A government programme initiated after the end of apartheid was supposed to replace the bucket system in informal settlements by 2007.

Source: Agencies