Two die in Sasolburg protests

Free State police confirmed on Wednesday that a second person was killed in the Sasolburg protests.

Protesters in Zamdela township in Sasolburg on 22 January 2013 had a stand off with police. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN

ZAMDELA - Free State police confirmed on Wednesday that a second person was killed in the Sasolburg protests.

They said the man was killed while community members were vandalising a police station in Zamdela.

A policeman was also injured in the attack, but reinforcements were brought in to disperse the crowd.

Residents from Zamdela began their strike on Sunday against the merger of Sasolburg with the Ngwathe Local Municipality.

They feared the town would be neglected if that happened.

Protests turned violent on Monday, when locals went on the rampage looting local businesses, setting cars and a municipal building alight.

Free State Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Khehla Sithole said the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) was investigating the case.

"Some of the community members were reported to have gotten inside the police station, so there was a hassle between the community and police. Then we picked up a report that one of the community members had passed away."

The first death resulted when a man opened fire on protesters alleging he was being attacked by the crowd, police said.

'MERGER NOT HAPPENING'

Cooperate Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi said he was confident authorities would restore stability in Zamdela township with the help of residents.

Baloyi announced that the merger of Sasolburg with the Ngwathe Local Municipality would not happen.

But it remains to be seen whether looting and violence that has been the order of the day this week, will be a thing of the past in the Sasolburg township.

Community leader Lucky Malebo said government had the full support of the community now that their concerns have been heard.

"We want to see the situation going back to normal."

The situation remains tense as residents continue burning tyres and police showing zero tolerance towards any violence.