'Police not the enemy of protesters'

There have been an average of 32 protests a day across SA over the last three months.

Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa. Picture: Sapa.

JOHANNESBURG - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has denied that police officers are increasingly being seen as 'the enemy' during violent protests.

South Africa is witnessing a wave of demonstrations, with an average of 32 protests a day across all provinces over the past three months.

In some areas, police stations have been attacked and libraries and clinics torched.

Mthethwa says the key is for both the protesters and the police to act responsibly at all times.

"You don't need to carry dangerous weapons and torch buildings and public amenities if you want to make your point. Make your point within the confines of the Constitution and the law."

Meanwhile, the Gauteng provincial government has assembled a high-level task team to deal with violent service delivery protests.

The province has been hit by an average of six protests a day for the past three months and one in five has turned violent.

Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane says people are violating their right to protest.

"When people have issues let them protest and use all avenues instead of opting into violence."

EFF SLAMS PHOTOGRAPH

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) say a photograph showing its members dropping off tyres in Hebron near Pretoria, apparently to be used during service delivery protests, is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from the real demands by angry communities.

AFP photographer Marco Longari snapped the EFF members off-loading the tyres from the party's branded bakkie on Friday in the North West township.

The party's Mbuyiseni Ndlozi says this is an attempt to shift focus away from legitimate demands by communities.

Last week, protesters blocked a kilometre stretch of the Hebron Road with burning tyres and debris.

Schooling in the area was also disrupted, with dozens of pupils in uniforms seen walking in the streets.

It's understood the community is dissatisfied with how their mayor responded to a memorandum of demands submitted two weeks ago.

LACK OF SERVICE DELIVERY A GROWING PROBLEM

Last week, 26-year-old protester Lerata Rabodila was shot dead in Sebokeng during a scuffle between rival groups and police in the informal settlement in southern Johannesburg.

The area has been the site of violent service delivery protests over the past few weeks, with residents demanding basic services and RDP housing.

Rabodila's family is blaming a group of ANC members for his death.

Bronkhorstspruit was also the site of violent protests last week over poor service delivery.

Residents from three major townships, Rethabiseng, Zithobeni and Nkangala, are demonstrating over what they're calling exorbitant water and electricity tariffs.

They also say they've gone without these services for up to a month now.

Protesters torched a police station, a library, a municipal office and a clinic in the area.

A total of 39 people were arrested by police and charged with vandalising state property.