Barberton protest death not confirmed

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Independent Newspapers

File picture by Wesley Fester

Barberton - Police have not confirmed the death of a protester said to have been shot during a service delivery protest in Mpumalanga on Thursday.

Mpumalanga police said the protest began in the morning when community members went on the rampage in Barberton, a Sapa correspondent reported.

“Police had to use rubber bullets to disperse the crowd who were burning tyres, barricading roads and further went to burn down a house of councillor in the area,” said Brigadier Selvy Mohlala.

“We can confirm that one person had to be rushed to hospital after suffering wounds from rubber bullet shots. At the moment, we cannot confirm that the person has died.”

A woman, who asked not to be named for fear of victimisation, said the person had died.

“I'm here at the protest. Police fired shots and one young man has died,” she said.

Community members were demanding water, electricity and better roads from the Umjindi local municipality.

The water shortages followed a strike by municipal employees who are members of the SA Municipal Workers Union (Samwu).

The employees demanded the reinstatement of two officials who were fired and four who were suspended.

Provincial union secretary Samuel Simelane said members were subjected to unfair dismissals and suspensions.

“Four of our members were suspended last week while two were fired for reasons we still do not know yet,” he said.

“We believe this is wrong as the members have not been given the opportunity to present their side of the story.”

Municipal spokesman Sam Jele referred questions to the municipality's chief operations officer, known as Johan, who in turn referred questions to the municipal manager's office.

A woman, Marian, who declined to give her surname, said she would forward emailed questions to municipal manager Patrick Msibi.

Sapa


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