The police also stand accused of shooting dead two men who were with 1,500 people that attacked a police station with rocks and gasoline bombs near the northeastern town of Tzaneen on Jan. 28 following a murder in the area. Fifteen officers were injured and 19 police vehicles were damaged.
“The upsurge in protests and deaths at the hands of police is clearly concerning, as it belies broken politics and public trust at the local level,” Anne Fruhauf, southern Africa analyst at risk evaluator Teneo Intelligence said in an e-mailed response to questions on Feb. 10. “The protests here tend to be uncoordinated and confined to poor urban areas. Overall political stability is not at risk.”
Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets yesterday to disperse ANC supporters seeking to prevent about 1,500 members of the White opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, from marching on ANC headquarters in downtown Johannesburg.
The government has defended its handling of the unrest.
“There is no culture of impunity within the police service,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa told reporters in Cape Town on Jan. 24. “We are a caring government and therefore there is no carte blanche that we give to our officers to kill innocent people who protest.”
The longer communities are wait for basic services, the greater the potential for violent protest, said Alexander.
“In many instances these people have tried to use the appropriate avenues to have their problems resolved by local authorities and for whatever reason this has failed,” she said. “The violence could therefore be an expression of the feelings of frustration and disappointment felt by these communities.”
By: Mike Cohen