South Africa: Scores arrested in KwaZulu-Natal protest chaos

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More than 170 protesters are reported to have been arrested in two KwaZulu-Natal townships engulfed in violent protest action on Monday.

In Isithebe, North of Durban, despondent residents vented their frustration “about the re-nomination of the ex-mayor for the upcoming elections,” KwaZulu-Natal spokesperson Thulani Zwane said.

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“One hundred and twenty suspects were arrested and charged for public violence, arson and malicious damage to property were opened for investigation”, he said.

Zwane said the damaged property included four factories; a truck; two vehicles and five containers set alight and police vehicles.

In Umlazi, South of Durban protesters embarked on a service delivery protest blocking entries and exits in the township.

Zwane was unable to confirm how many were arrested but according to initial reports the number was as high as 50 protesters. The protest was allegedly sparked because of lack of electricity.

KZN Commissioner Lieutenant General Mmamonnye Ngobeni said: “Violence during protest action will not be tolerated. The police have a responsibility to protect property and lives during these violent protests. Members of the community are warned that we will execute our constitutional mandate and perpetrators of such violent protests will be arrested and prosecuted,” she said.

The detained protesters at Isithebe were charged with public violence, arson and malicious damage to property and are expected to appear at the Inyoni Magistrate Court soon.

More arrests are expected as the police are still monitoring and diffusing the crowds in these two areas.

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