Jan. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Three South African policemen were injured today during clashes with thousands of protesters who blocked roads with flaming tires, burnt a car and looted stores, according to a police spokesman.
One officer was hospitalized after being struck in the face by a brick as scores of police fired rubber bullets and tear-gas cannisters at as many as 5,000 protesters in Sasolburg, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Johannesburg, Peter Kareli said today by phone. The riot was triggered by plans to redraw the area’s municipal boundaries, he said.
“We’ve arrested 160 people for public violence offences,” Kareli said. “This is the biggest protest I’ve seen in my three years since joining the police.”
South Africa last year had a record 173 major protests over poor delivery of municipal services, more than twice the number in the previous year, according to Johannesburg-based research group Municipal IQ. Unemployment in Africa’s largest economy is 25.5 percent.
A refinery operated by Sasol Ltd. in the town wasn’t affected by the violence, Kareli said.
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