National

Phiyega en route to Relela after police, protesters clash

Sapa, Staff Reporter

The national police commissioner is on her way to a village outside Tzaneen where three protesters have been killed and 15 police officers injured.

Police have killed three protesters in Relele, Limpopo. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

National police commissioner Riah Phiyega is on her way to Relela village, Limpopo, following the death of two people at the hands of police on Tuesday night, Beeld reported on Wednesday.

Two men were shot dead by police during a protest in Relela outside Tzaneen, Limpopo police said on Wednesday, and 15 officers were injured.

The two men were killed on Tuesday evening near a satellite police station in the area, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said. About 1 500 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."

Public violence
Nine people were arrested for public violence, said Mulaudzi.

He urged Relela community members to stop abusing their constitutional rights.

The community had been protesting since the discovery of the mutilated body of Kgomotso Rakgolane last week. Mulaudzi said two people were taken in for questioning but later released. Their houses were burned by angry community members on Saturday.

During that protest, a 15-year-old boy was shot dead - allegedly by the police - while he was on his way back from the shops. 

"The firearms of officers who attended the protest were taken for [a] ballistic test to confirm if the boy was indeed killed by police."

Not a protester
City Press reported on Monday that community leader Herman Maloko said the young boy's family had told him that he was not part of the protest.

"His family said he went past a group from the protesting community at the time when there was a confrontation or when they were dispersed by police and that's when he was shot. He was taken to the clinic where he lost his life," Maloko said.

"The situation has been bad over the weekend with streets barricaded with large stones and tree trunks. We're trying to get the community to cool down so that these issues can be addressed without any violence." – Sapa

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