Confusion over Zamdela death toll

FS police are now saying four people lost their lives during violent protests in Sasolburg.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Police on Thursday said four people were killed in Sasolburg's violent protests.

The number of deaths was initially reported to be at two, but there have been reports this week the death toll may be higher.

On Sunday, Zamdela residents went on strike in opposition of the merger of two municipalities.

They said this was after Free State Premier Ace Magashule failed to attend a meeting with them.

They destroyed municipal property and looted shops.

There seem to be confusion on the death toll with media reporting more people have been killed in the clashes since Sunday.

Two people died in hospital when police opened fire on residents who had surrounded the local police station and pelted it with stones.

Authorities said another two people were shot dead allegedly by a shop owner and a motorist earlier this week.

More than 200 people have been arrested for possession of stolen goods and are expected to appear in Sasolburg Magistrate Court.

Meanwhile, residents have accused police officers of also looting during the violent protest.

They claim police took alcohol and other things from shops.

They claim police brutality started after SAPS members from other provinces were called in to help.

Earlier this week, Minister of Corporate Governance and Traditional Affairs Richard Baloyi visited the area and promised to halt the municipal merger.

On Wednesday, some of the residents started cleaning up the community saying they wanted to bring back normality.

They said they were ashamed of what had happened in their community.

Meanwhile, Baloyi said the suspension of the municipal merger in Sasolburg has affected preparations for the 2016 Local Government Elections.

Baloyi was explaining his decision to suspend the merger at a briefing in Pretoria.

He said a task team will look at all municipal boundary disputes and will only proceed with the changes when all parties are satisfied with the process.

He said the task team will consider several aspects of the changes.

"We have to consider whether the public participation process is managed in an environment where all the people have equal say in influencing possible changes and whether the system is not open to hijacking."

Baloyi said the task team will work with communities, local government structures and the Municipal Demarcation Board to resolve disputes.

"The team will also facilitate and monitor that all unresolved demarcation related persons are given due considerations by the end of February."