Sasolburg residents search for missing relatives

Many people have gone missing in Zamdela since violent protests erupted in Sasolburg on Sunday.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Scores of people in Zamdela township on Friday searched frantically for relatives of theirs who went missing when violent protests erupted in Sasolburg this week.

Residents took to the streets on Sunday, angry over the proposed merger of two Free State municipalities.

They have concerns the merger of the Metsimaholo and Ngwathe municipalities may benefit only some areas.

Protests have claimed four lives so far, while dozens of people are still recovering in hospital after being shot with rubber bullets, and 100 others still need to appear in court after being arrested for looting and public violence.

John Phutha said his 17-year-old daughter - Tshepiso - was loaded into a police van along with protesters, while observing the looting of a bottle store outside their home on Sunday.

He said he had not seen her since, and that police had been unable to tell him where she was being kept.

"They said I should find out for myself, even though I explained I was working from 6am to 6pm. The police were rude to me."

Local community leader Lucky Malebo meanwhile said some parents were unaware their children were injured during clashes with police and had been transferred to hospitals away from Zamdela.

He said one resident heard from rumours that her daughter had been injured. He said she discovered only later that the girl had been transferred to a hospital in Sebokeng.

People have been visiting the local police station all day to inquire about their relatives' whereabouts.

They have pleaded with the authorities to help find them.