Two men were shot dead by police during a protest in Relela outside Tzaneen, Limpopo police said on Wednesday.
The two men, aged between 25 and 40, were killed on Tuesday evening near the police station in the area, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.
About 1 500 violent protesters armed with petrol bombs and stones attacked the police at the station.
“Fifteen officers were injured, three critically so and 19 police vehicles were damaged.”
Mulaudzi said the intentions of the protesters were clear and the officers did what anyone would have done to protect themselves.
“Anyone who was facing that situation last night would have no option but to do what the members did to protect their lives.”
Nine people were arrested for public violence, said Mulaudzi.
He urged Relela community members to stop abusing their constitutional rights by being brutal to police officers.
The community had been protesting since Thursday after the body of a woman was found in the area.
Mulaudzi said two people were taken in for questioning but later released. Their houses were burned on Saturday by angry community members.
During that protest a 15-year-old boy was shot dead by police, allegedly by police.
“The firearms of officers who attended the protest were taken for ballistic test to confirm if the boy was indeed killed by police.” - Sapa