All quiet after Limpopo protests

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Police personnel remove material that was used to barricade one street in Kubjana village near Relela, Limpopo. Photo: Itumeleng English

Tzaneen - The villages of Relela and Kubjana in Limpopo were quiet on Monday after days of violent protests, police said.

Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said no protests had been reported since the weekend, but police were still on alert.

“We are working around the clock to check for any sporadic protests and are monitoring the entire province.”

Eighteen people had been arrested and charged with public violence since the protests began. Nine appeared in court last week, while nine others appeared in the Bolobedu Magistrate's Court on Monday.

“One was released into the custody of his parents since he is still a minor. The eight others will appear in court again on February 11 where they will join the other nine,” said Mulaudzi.

On Thursday, residents of Kubjana village near Relela torched the property of a local businessman after a child was found dead in the boot of his car. Two other children were found unharmed in his car.

Police did not suspect any foul play and said it seemed like the children had accidentally locked themselves in the car while playing in it. Locals clashed with police and threw stones at them.

The protests were initially sparked after a 20-year-old woman was found murdered and mutilated in Mandlakazi, near Letsitele, on January 24.

Kgomotso Ragolane's right hand had been cut off and her cellphone and house keys placed inside her stomach, which had been cut open. Two people were taken in for questioning but later released. Residents burnt their houses down on January 25.

During a protest following her death a 15-year-old boy was shot dead, allegedly by police. He was buried on Saturday.

“Police were at the funeral and everything was ok. There were no disruptions,” said Mulaudzi.

On Tuesday night, 15 police officers were injured and 19 police vehicles damaged when around 1500 people, armed with petrol bombs and stones, attacked the Relela satellite police station. During the confrontation two men, aged between 25 and 40, were killed, allegedly by police.

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