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Limpopo protesters demand entry fees

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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 - Protesters were blocking roads and demanding entry fees to Relela and Kubjana villages in Limpopo on Friday morning.

A Sapa correspondent came across at least four “pay stations” operated by protesters.

Roads leading into the villages outside Tzaneen were blocked with burning tyres and vandalised Stop sign boards.

The protesters manning these road blocks were claiming they were collecting funds to help the four grieving families whose relatives died in protests that started about a week ago.

Groups of between five and 10 protesters were manning the “pay stations” and demanding R5 entry fees from cars, and R10 from loaded bakkies, in full view of the police.

Most people paid the “entry fees”. Those who did not pay were forced to turn around.

On Friday morning, police at one stage aimed at the protesters to fire rubber bullets, but the protesters screamed at the officers and the police backed off, a Sapa correspondent reported.

Villagers working outside the two villages were forced to walk long distances as taxi operators refused to drive through the area.

Limpopo police spokesman Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi confirmed that roads were blocked in and around the villages, saying mainly police Nyalas were driving around.

“You cannot move in those areas - even taxis are not operating,” said Mulaudzi.

He warned residents to be cautious at all times.

“We are working around the clock to bring normality in the areas. We are continuing to deploy members.”

He said they were monitoring the areas with the help of Mpumalanga police.

“The situation is calm for now, they (protesters) normally start in the afternoon,” he said before 7am.

He said arrests were made on Thursday evening but he could not yet confirm how many.

On Thursday, residents of Kubjana village near Relela torched the property of a local businessman after the body of a child and two other unharmed children were found in his car.

They had also clashed with police and stoned them.

The protests began after a schoolgirl from Relela, Khomotso Raolane, 15, was found murdered and mutilated in Mandlakazi, near Letsitele, on Friday, January 24.

Her hands had been cut off and her cellphone and house keys placed inside her stomach, which had been sliced open. Her arms had been tied behind her back.

Two people were taken in for questioning but later released. Residents burnt their houses down on Saturday. During that protest a 15-year-old boy was shot dead, allegedly by police.

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.

Two men, aged between 25 and 40, were killed, allegedly by police during the confrontation. Nine people were arrested for public violence. - Sapa


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