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Sunday, 14 April 2019

Protests spread across South Africa ahead of elections

Violent protests calling for better housing and public services have spread across South Africa, just weeks until the May 8 general elections.

Four people have so far been killed in the protests, which have left several foreign-owned shops looted and others burned.

“People are protesting because they want their voices to be heard ahead of the elections,” political analyst Shadrack Gutto told Anadolu Agency.

On Friday morning, residents of Pennyville Township, South of Johannesburg, barricaded main roads and burned tires demanding the government give them title deeds for the land where they currently live.

In the capital Pretoria, two people were killed during violent protests in the Shoshanguve Township, where crowds looted several shops and burned a truck transporting goods worth 700,000 rand ($50,000).

The protests began last week in the Alexandra Township north of Johannesburg but have since spread to different parts of the country.

In Cape Town, several foreign-owned shops were looted on Thursday as protesters demonstrated against poor services in several townships there. Foreign nationals were forced to seek safety at local police stations.

Gutto said it was unfortunate local communities were turning their frustrations on foreign nationals mainly from African countries.

He said locals accuse African migrants of taking their jobs by accepting lower wages, opening competitive businesses, and crowding social services.

“Politicians especially those in government have used the issue of migration to woo voters during this campaign period without thinking how some of their statements could fuel xenophobic attacks,” he said.

Earlier this month, angry mobs in the coastal city of Durban raided homes and businesses of foreign nationals there.

Two people died in the ensuing skirmishes, forcing migrants to seek shelter at mosques and a local police station.

Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the attacks on African migrants in his country, calling on law enforcement to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Most of the South Africans protesting live in shantytowns and lack proper housing and have little access to services. (Anadolu Agency)

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