South African police fired rubber bullets and water cannons to quell protests in several shanty towns near Johannesburg in which one policeman was shot and killed.
With just 100 days to go before the soccer World Cup which will put host South Africa at the centre of global attention, a string of violent protests have provided scenes reminiscent of the apartheid era.
The protesters want to pressure the African National Congress (ANC), in power since the end of white-minority rule in 1994, to improve healthcare, housing, education, roads and water. Eleven demonstrators were arrested.
“We want better lives, development and dignity. Each and every time we voted for the ANC but it seems we are forgotten,” said Nicky Khulu, a 29-year-old resident of Orange Farm, a dusty township outside Johannesburg.
For more than a week, Khulu and hundreds of other residents around Johannesburg have protested at squalid living conditions in Africa’s richest city by blocking a major road with burning tyres and boulders.
“Politicians have money for big houses, luxury cars and expensive clothes but they are not earning their money by doing things for the poor,” said Khulu, who is unemployed.
“For twenty years I have lived in a shack. Nothing has changed for us after apartheid ended. Things have gotten worse.”
Residents accuse city officials of corruption and pocketing money meant to be used to upgrade roads and other infrastructure.
Despite emerging from a recession in the third quarter of last year, South Africa is only projecting modest growth this year, limiting what President Jacob Zuma’s government can spend on infrastructure, which it says is a priority.