22 January 2013

South Africa: Residents Loot Shops as Sasolburg Protests Grow Violent

Photo: SABC Digital News
Violent protests in Sasolburg, Free State.

Free State — A shop and a car were set alight during violent protests by Zamdela residents in Sasolburg on Tuesday.

As the shop burned some residents watched in dismay.

"They stole from it yesterday. Why are they burning it now and where are we going to buy?" asked a woman.

"We are tired of this now," said another.

In another street, a car was set alight and another was overturned.

Jacaranda radio journalist Aldrin Sampear's car was struck with knobkerries and stones while he was inside the vehicle. Protesters threatened to set it on fire.

"I've never been so scared... it was a very scary experience, I now know how it feels when motorists pass the protesters," he said. He was helped by a protester he had interviewed on Monday.

Earlier on Tuesday, a man threatened a Sapa journalist with a knife while he was filming a crowd dancing at the local stadium.

"A man in his mid-20s, who wore a colourful bandanna and no shirt, approached me and asked why I was shooting [footage] and that I should stop," Sapa cameraman Vumani Mkhize said.

"I ignored him and the man again said that I should only start shooting when [Free State premier] Ace Magashule arrives. He then pulled out a knife in full view of the crowd. I picked up my camera equipment and started to walk away.

"He then walked towards me and asked to look at my equipment. I ignored him and walked away."

The protester then left Mkhize alone.

The violence, which started on Sunday, was sparked by plans to merge Sasolburg with the Ngwathe local municipality, under which Parys falls.

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