Johannesburg - Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has offered condolences to the family of the third man to die following protests in Mothutlung, outside Brits.
“Yesterday (Tuesday) I visited Mothutlung where I directly interacted with the police management... and members of the community; precisely to get a sense of what led to clashes,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
Mthethwa had tasked the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) to include Lerato Seema's death in their investigations.
“As a matter of urgency, Ipid must get in touch with those members who are willing to give accounts of what they witnessed. We must get answers around the circumstances under which the three community members died.”
Township residents have protested violently over a demand for water. They said they had been without water for at least three months.
On Monday mineworker Osia Rahube and a photographer only known as Bra Mike were shot dead, allegedly by the police, during a protest.
Police spokesman Colonel Sabata Mokgwabone said the third person died when he tried to jump out of a moving Nyala armoured vehicle. The man and his friend were arrested for public violence on Tuesday.
“The men were put in the Nyala that was headed to the police station; one man managed to escape and the other one tried to escape, but fell from a moving Nyala,” Mokgwabone said.
Residents have accused police of targeting them and attacking without provocation. One resident, Amos Matjila, told Sapa that police found them walking to the Madibeng municipality's offices to try and get answers about the water shortage.
“Police stopped us and without warning, started shooting. People had no weapons. Police were under no threat. There was no need for them (police) to shoot,” he said.
During a public meeting with Mthethwa and Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa on Tuesday, residents expressed their anger and dissatisfaction over the situation in the township.
Residents shouted and demanded that officers put away their weapons.
Mthethwa said there was no problem between police and residents prior to the protests and shootings.
“We are aware of the community's anger at this point in time and shall ensure that we mend these broken relations.”
Mthethwa said should the Ipid identify any officers as suspects, the police would institute internal disciplinary processes.
Ipid spokesman Moses Dlamini confirmed they were investigating Seema's death.
“The Ipid has now taken over the investigation. The Ipid is working hard to expedite the investigations into the two incidents,” he said.
Dlamini asked residents to help with the investigations.