South African Township Protest Halted After Two Killed

Riots by township residents in Sasolburg, South Africa that left two people dead ended after the government agreed to resume talks to resolve protesters’ grievances.

Zamdela township in Sasolburg, about 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Johannesburg, was “calm and quiet,” police spokesman Motantsi Makhele said in a phone interview today.

The riot was triggered on Jan. 20 by plans to redraw the area’s municipal boundaries that will result in Sasolburg falling under a neighboring council. Residents were opposed to the plan because they weren’t consulted and were concerned about job opportunities in the merged municipality, according to Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper.

Corporative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Richard Baloyi agreed with the residents yesterday to resume talks on the border demarcation.

“In the meeting between the minister and the different stakeholders, it was agreed that the protests must stop,” Mpho Lekgoro, spokeswoman for the department, said in a phone interview from the capital, Pretoria.

South Africa last year had a record 173 major protests over poor delivery of municipal services, more than twice the number a year earlier, according to Johannesburg-based research group Municipal IQ. In August, police opened fire on thousands of striking mineworkers at Lonmin Plc’s Marikana mine, killing 34 protesters in South Africa’s deadliest police action since the end of apartheid.

Police maintained a strong presence in Sasolburg to monitor the situation, Makhele said.

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