S.Africa police raid riot-hit shantytown

Police round up protestors in South Africa/AFP

Police round up protestors in South Africa/AFP

JOHANNESBURG, Jan 23 – South African police have conducted overnight raids in a township near the industrial hub of Sasolburg, following a day of deadly protests and looting, a police spokesman said Wednesday.

“We conducted door-to-door searches and recovered some of the looted property,” said police spokesman Sam Makhele.

“Building material was recovered from a number of houses in the area and those found in possession of looted goods have been arrested,” he said.

Residents of Zamdela, some 80 kilometres (50 miles) south of Johannesburg, had looted shops and burnt property ostensibly to protest a decision to incorporate their town into a neighbouring municipality.

The violence resulted in the death of at least two people.

One person was killed Tuesday when residents besieged a local police station. A second person was shot dead by a business owner who fired at a mob that attacked his shop.

Police remain on high alert.

“Our members are out in the street monitoring the situation to prevent the outbreak of violence,” said Makhele.

On Tuesday police said 180 people had been arrested for public violence, looting and malicious damage to property, after two days of rioting.

Residents are opposed to the merger of their town with a neighbouring municipality they regard as poorly run and corrupt.

They barricaded streets with burning tyres and burnt down cars, with dozens injured as police fired rubber bullets.

The violent protests have forced the ministry of Cooperative Governance to suspend demarcation plans, following talks with community members late Tuesday.

The department said it would allow a broader consultation process with affected communities to air their concerns.

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