Protestors are being chased down by police in nyalas.
BEKKERSDAL – Chaotic running battles have broken out in two Westonaria townships on Thursday afternoon with residents in Simunye being chased down by police in nyalas and protestors in Bekkersdal setting fire to the community hall.
The protests have become increasingly violent over the past two days.
At least two people have been shot and wounded while several illegal firearms have been confiscated.
Bekkersdal residents first took to the streets over a month ago, demanding the municipality be dissolved due to poor service delivery.
The protests have intensified even further with groups of people setting fire to the community hall.
Police responded quickly, though, and have managed to contain the blaze.
In the neighbouring township of Simunye, police continue to clash with high school pupils who were taken out of their classes to join the protest earlier.
Police are struggling to control the widespread violence and the situation remains volatile.
Earlier, the protests spilled over into a neighbouring township where high school pupils have been recruited to join the demonstration.
The teenagers have been setting tyres alight and blocking intersections while dodging rubber bullets fired by police.
Earlier, there was a tense standoff between police and protestors when more than a hundred people first tried to cross over into the neighbouring Simunye township to recruit the pupils.
The group and police faced off in an open field between the two townships.
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the large crowd but a small group managed to evade police and made it across.
It’s the second day of violent demonstrations in the area.
On Wednesday night, a 20-year-old man was killed during the violence.
Themba Khumalo was shot multiple times in the Spook Town area of the township.
Paseka Phakathi, a witness to the shooting, said he and Khumalo were together at home when four men called Khumalo outside.
He says he then heard gunshots being fired and Khumalo ran back into the shack bleeding.
Phakathi says they had earlier been involved in clashes with supporters of a local ward councillor from a neighbouring township and he suspects the killing may be linked to this.
But police have not confirmed that the killing is related to the protests.
Maria Ncosana breaks down in tears after the death of her 20-year-old cousin Themba Khumalo who was shot dead by four unknown gunmen. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN
(Edited by Craig Wynn)