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Free State premier throws his weight behind Sasolburg task team

Sapa

Free State Premier Ace Magashule has backed the establishment of a task team to investigate the municipal demarcation issues in the province.

Protests in Zamdela have left two people dead and nine injured so far. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

Magashule's spokesperson Mondli Mvambi said on Wednesday the task team would provide a further opportunity to consult on the various options which had already been proposed, and would also be able to explore new possibilities to address the problems experienced with the current demarcation of municipal boundaries in the Free State.

Magashule urged all interested parties to fully participate in the consultative processes.

Minister of Cooperative Governance Richard Baloyi announced the task team on Tuesday after a total of 238 people were arrested for public violence and malicious damage to property in Zamdela, Sasolburg, since violent protests broke out on Sunday.

Two people have died in the riots, which are in protest against the merger of the Matsimaholo municipality in Sasolburg with the Ngwathe municipality near Parys. Baloyi also said that the merger, which was to have taken place in 2016, was halted.

Earlier, Magashule said violence and lawlessness, such as that taking place in Sasolburg, would not be tolerated.

The premier said he has confidence in the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate and prosecute criminals during the riots. More than 200 people have been arrested for public violence during the protests, which started on Sunday.

One of the people killed was shot dead, allegedly by police, during violent protests at the Zamdela police station where conflict broke out between police and protesters on Tuesday. On Wednesday police said another protester was shot dead by a motorist after a group of protesters tried to block his way. Nine people had been injured so far.

Makhele said he could not confirm a report in the New Age that three people had died.

Protesters threw stones at police while some tried to force their way into the police station, said provincial commissioner Lieutenant General Khela Sithole on Wednesday.

Two of the injured were police offices, who were in a police nyala when it was attacked by protesters on Monday.

The other injured – at least one of whom was in a critical condition – were protesters, said Colonel Motantsi Makhele.

Police continued to monitor the situation in the township on Wednesday. Makhele said the situation was under control and that no violence was reported during the night.

"The only thing that remains is that some streets are still inaccessible," he said.

He said the cases would probably be heard in the Sasolburg Magistrate's Court by the end of the week.

"With the high number of volumes of people arrested, there's a lot of administration to be done, and those arrested will be questioned. Only then will we know how many will be appearing in court and so forth." – Sapa

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