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Page last updated at 13:28 GMT, Tuesday, 13 October 2009 14:28 UK

Rubber bullets clear SA protests

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Police opened fire with rubber bullets

South African police have fired rubber bullets and tear gas at crowds of protesters angry at a lack of services and proper housing in their townships.

Thousands of residents in two communities east of Johannesburg had barricaded roads and marched on public offices, setting one building alight.

President Jacob Zuma had promised to improve services in the townships to quell a wave of protests.

But South Africa has since slipped into recession, hampering his plans.

Sakhile township, in the north-eastern Mpumalanga region, has been the scene of protests for two weeks.

The latest outbreak of unrest came after residents marched to a local municipality building to hand over a memorandum of demands.

They blame their lack of basic service on local councillors, whom they accuse of corruption.

Local radio station Talk Radio 702 reported that protesters then started fires on the township's streets and overturned rubbish bins.

Police opened fire with rubber bullets and several people were arrested.

Officers are also maintaining a strong presence in the Palm Ridge township near Johannesburg following protests that erupted there.

The residents took to the streets barricading roads and calling for a local councillor to step down. The councillor's house was burnt down during the unrest.

The protests, along with widespread strikes by workers demanding huge pay rises, have been the main challenges of Mr Zuma's presidency since he took office in May.



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