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By Riot Hlatshwayo | Apr 07, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

A 17-YEAR-OLD boy was shot dead after police used live ammunition to quell a service delivery protest in Mpumalanga.

Eleven people - mostly youth aged between 15 and 30 - were arrested after the house of a local councillor in Siyazenzela township in the eastern highveld was burnt down during the protests on Easter Monday.

Police spokesperson Captain Klaas Maluka said yesterday the protesters started barricading the roads on Monday at about 5am.

He said that the police used rubber bullets to disperse them.

Maluka said protesters became more violent in the evening and burnt a community hall as well as a house belonging to a councillor.

He said the protesters threw stones and other objects at the police, damaging several police vehicles.

Maluka admitted police eventually used live ammunition when they realised that their lives were in danger.

"This was when the 17-year-old protester was shot in the left shoulder and died a while later. The lives of our members were in danger as the protesters had become more violent," Maluka said.

The Independent Complaints Directorate (ICD) confirmed that it was investigating the fatal shooting.

"We are investigating the incident and a postmortem will be conducted tomorrow.

"So far, according to statements, we cannot conclude as to who exactly shot the boy dead," said ICD national spokesperson Moses Dlamini yesterday.

The incident was but one of scattered protests that have gripped Mpumalanga since the beginning of the year, following closely on a large number of similar protests that happened in the province last year.

In another service delivery protest that hit the province, residents of Leandra set fire to the municipal offices, the local civic centre and a construction company building on March 20.

This resulted in the arrest of 29 people after the residents burnt a truck and two bakkies and vandalised property and police vehicles while demanding an end to poor service delivery.

Another area in which a protest took place this year was Ogies, where people were complaining about local mines giving jobs to foreigners instead of locals.

One of the first service delivery protests this year took place in Balfour.

Protester Jacob Malakane was shot dead in one of the protests in Mashishing near Lydenburg last year.

Simphiwe Kunene, the spokesperson for the department of corporate governance and traditional affairs, said national and provincial teams were formed during a recent local government summit to deal with problems within municipalities.


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