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Teenager dies after Harrismith protest

A 17-year-old boy, hospitalised after police opened fire to disperse a protesting crowd on the N3 near Harrismith on Monday, died in hospital on Tuesday.

The teenager died from internal bleeding, Free State police spokesperson Superintendent Annelie Wrensch said.

She said a post-mortem will be held to confirm the cause of death.

The boy was transferred to Manapo hospital on Monday night due to his injuries, which at first were believed to be lacerations.

However, Wrensch said he could have been one of the people who were treated for a gunshot wound after Monday’s protests.

Police arrested 37 schoolchildren on Tuesday morning when about 800 people participated in an illegal march to protest poor service delivery in the area.

On Monday, 38 people were arrested when thousands of youths, some called out of schools in the Intabazwe township of Harrismith, descended on the highway to highlight concerns about service delivery in the area. More than 20 children were injured when police opened fire on the protesters blocking the N3 highway.

Independent Complaints Directorate spokesperson Steve Mabona said on Tuesday that members of the police watchdog were already on their way to the town to investigate the matter.

The situation at Intabazwe was reported to be calm, but tense, on Tuesday afternoon.

Wrensch said the arrests on Tuesday occurred after pupils threw stones at police. A stun grenade was used to disperse the group.

A scheduled meeting between the leaders of the Greater Harrismith Concern Group, which is unhappy with service delivery in the Harrismith area, and the Maluti-A-Phofung Municipality did not take place on Tuesday.

Executive mayor Balekile Mxangwa said on Tuesday afternoon he was still trying to get hold of the group’s leaders.

”I am waiting in vain for them. This matter must be resolved as soon as possible,” Mxangwa said.

The group wants more attention to be given to government housing, infrastructure development and renovations to places such as community halls in the QwaQwa area.

The municipality manages the QwaQwa area, which includes Harrismith.

Those arrested on Monday appeared in court later that day on a charge of public violence. Sixteen of them were under the age of 18 and were granted R100 bail. They were released under their parents’ supervision. The rest were granted bail of R500. — Sapa

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