Police open fire in third day of S Africa protest

Police fired rubber bullets as protesters set alight tyres in a destitute South African township today in a third day of demonstrations over weak government service delivery.

Updated: Feb 17, 2011, 00:01 AM IST

Wesselton: Police fired
rubber bullets as protesters set alight tyres in a destitute
South African township today in a third day of demonstrations
over weak government service delivery.

Riot police deployed into the streets of Wesselton,
around 200 kilometres east of Johannesburg, to disperse
protesters who also dragged the charred remains of earlier
barricades back into the road.

Businesses were closed and school children had stayed
at home amid fears that the streets could again explode
violence after yesterday`s clashes, when police opened fire
with rubber and live bullets.

A man was found dead but authorities said it was not
yet clear what had killed him.

Police said they fired rubber bullets yesterday at
protesters who trashed and looted foreign-owned shops, and
shot live ammunition into walls as a warning after some
demonstrators opened fire at the security forces.

"They don`t care if you`re participating or just
watching, they shoot everybody," resident Sbusiso Nkosi, 21,
said today as he crouched behind a tin-roof shack after
running from riot police firing rubber bullets and carrying
assault rifles.

Nkosi, an unemployed welder, told AFP residents were
angry over the government`s failure to deliver services like
electricity and water, and the lack of jobs in the township,
which is near the town of Ermelo.

South Africa`s police chief Bheki Cele was to visit
Wesselton today as the police minister warned that violence
would be punished.

"We noted disturbing incidents of looting of shops and
assaults and we once again want to reiterate that government
shall act without fear or favour to protect law-abiding
incidents," Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said in a
statement.

South Africa routinely sees violent protests in its
impoverished shantytowns as residents demand better housing
and services like water and electricity.

PTI