A South African riot police fires rubber bullets to prevent looting in North West Province on April 20, 2018, as protest continued for a second day in province capital of Mahikeng. South African police fired rubber bullets at protesters after President Cyril Ramaphosa cut short a foreign trip to deal with violent riots over alleged government corruption and poor public services. Shops were looted, roads were blocked and vehicles set alight in North West province in unrest that posed an early challenge for Ramaphosa, who came to power in February. At least 23 people were arrested and one man was reported to have died in sporadic violence that erupted this week in Mahikeng, the provincial capital. / AFP PHOTO / MUJAHID SAFODIEN
South African police said on Tuesday one of their officers had shot dead a teenager during anti-corruption protests which have forced the president to cut short a foreign trip.
Riots over alleged government corruption and poor public services erupted last week in the North West province, where cars were set ablaze and shops looted in the first wave of unrest to face President Cyril Ramaphosa, who came to power in February.
“A 16-year-old boy was found dead during a violent protest yesterday evening in Taung,” provincial police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone told AFP.
“He was shot dead by the police,” police watchdog spokesman Moses Dlamini told AFP, adding that investigators had been dispatched to the town where the situation was “still very volatile”.
“At this stage we are trying to gather information about what happened,” said Dlamini, of the Independent Police Investigative Directorate.
After prematurely returning home from a Commonwealth summit in London on Friday and going straight into talks with local provincial leaders, Ramaphosa appealed for calm and promised a “speedy” resolution of the crisis.
Following a lull over the weekend, new protests broke out on Monday — this time in Taung town, 300 kilometres (about 200 miles) from the provincial capital Mahikeng which was the epicentre of last week’s protests.
Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets during clashes with the protesters.
The North West province has been a hotbed of unrest due to frustration over lack of housing, health services and jobs.
Much of the anger has been directed at Supra Mahumapelo, the provincial premier, who is accused of involvement in graft scandals that have engulfed the ruling African National Congress party.
He is accused of diverting 1.5 million rand ($120,000) from government coffers to buy cattle for former president Jacob Zuma.
His son allegedly received a 1.1 million rand pilot-training bursary from the state arms manufacturer under suspicious circumstances.
Ramaphosa, who took over from Zuma three months ago, has vowed to crack down on government corruption.