Protesters acquitted of public violence

By Time of article published Oct 19, 2006

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Thirteen people accused of public violence during protests against poor service delivery at Harrismith in the Free State were acquitted on Thursday.

"All 13 accused were acquitted," a Harrismith regional court official said.

The protests happened in August and September 2004.

The 13 were all members of the Greater Harrismith Concerned Residents (GHCR) group, formed by residents unhappy with the service delivery of the Maluti-a-Phofung municipality in the township.

The protesters' main complaint was that the neighbouring Qwa Qwa area - declared a developmental node area by President Thabo Mbeki - was getting all the municipality's attention.

The protests in Intabazwe, the township at Harrismith, turned violent and clashes between residents and police occurred. A 17-year-old boy died, allegedly shot by police. A former police captain and two inspectors were acquitted by the same court earlier this year of all charges relating to the death of the boy.

The 2004 protests eventually spread to some other eastern Free State towns.

Among the 13 acquitted was the chairperson of the GHCR at the time, Neo Motaung. - Sapa

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