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South African Police Investigate Protester Killing During Rally

Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- South African police are investigating the killing of a protester during a march opposing the court-ordered eviction of residents near the Durban Deep community in Roodepoort west of Johannesburg.

The killing “was at the protest site, but I cannot confirm any other details because we are still investigating,” Bonginkosi Ndebele, acting Roodepoort police station commissioner, said today by phone.

Residents of Durban Deep, about 14 miles west of Johannesburg, said the man was shot by a police officer in an unmarked vehicle, according to Eyewitness News. Demonstrators were protesting against a private development company that won a court order to evict them from the former mining area, Johannesburg-based Eyewitness News reported.

In the face of rising public anger over a lack of jobs and corruption scandals, the ruling African National Congress faces an election this year that may be its toughest yet. Two decades after white minority rule ended, 20 percent of the South Africa’s population of 53 million lacks formal housing, and 2.3 million households don’t have proper toilets, according to government data. The unemployment rate is 25 percent.

There were 155 protests over a lack of proper shelter and basic services last year, and a record 173 the year before, Johannesburg-based research group Municipal IQ, said in a Dec. 2 statement.

Police are also being investigated for allegedly firing live ammunition and killing three people during violent protests on Jan. 14 in Mothotlung, a township located 62 miles north of Johannesburg near the town of Brits. Residents were protesting against the lack of water and sanitation.

In August 2012, police fired on striking miners at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana platinum mine, killing at least 34 people, in some of the worst violence since the end of apartheid.

To contact the reporter on this story: Amogelang Mbatha in Johannesburg at ambatha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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