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Page last updated at 15:58 GMT, Thursday, 15 October 2009 16:58 UK

SA marchers blockade 2010 stadium

Protesters in Sakhile township, Thursday 15 October 2009
The situation in Sakhile township resembles a state of emergency

More than 30 South Africans have been arrested after a violent protest near a 2010 World Cup stadium in Mpumalanga Province, police say.

The protesters are demanding that the government honour its promise to build a new school if they made way for the construction of the Mbombela stadium.

Police told the BBC that the situation was "tense but under control".

A BBC correspondent says there are fears that the recent spate of violent protests could disrupt the World Cup.

Many residents of South Africa's townships are angry at what they see as the slow pace at which the government is providing basic services such as housing, water and electricity.

The BBC's Mpho Lakaje says the situation in Sakhile township in Mpumalanga resembles a state of emergency, with burning tyres in the roads, schools closed and local government buildings destroyed.

They become unruly and started throwing stones at police who used rubber bullets to disperse them
Superintendent Malcolm Makomene

The government has sent two ministers to the area to try to calm tensions.

There have also been similar protests near the capital, Pretoria.

About 100 protesters gathered near the Mbombela stadium in the provincial capital Nelspruit.

The demonstrators from Mathafeni village said the schools in the area are in a bad condition and accused the government of reneging on its promise to build a new school if they agreed to move.

The unrest started on Monday with students taking to the streets and blockading the entrance to the stadium, forcing workers to down tools, reports say.

Mbombela staduim (Sept 2009)
The stadium is almost finished

Later in the week the demonstration become violent leading to three police officers being injured, two of them seriously.

Police say the protests were initially staged by students but later escalated into a community affair.

"They become unruly and started throwing stones at police who used rubber bullets to disperse them," Mpumalanga police spokesperson Superintendent Malcolm Makomene told the BBC.

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One civilian was injured during the demonstrations while trying to dodge rubber bullets, police said.

Police said although the demonstrators protested in the vicinity of the stadium, there were no attempts to enter the ground.

"There have been no attempts to go into the stadium or destroy the property around it but police are monitoring the situation," the police spokesperson said.

Work has now resumed at the 30,000 capacity Mbombela Stadium, which is to host four first-round matches.

When President Jacob Zuma was inaugurated in May he promised to speed up delivery of services and improve the lives of the poor but the country's first recession in 17 years has reduced his scope for action.



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