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Fri Dec 19 01:02:25 CAT 2014

'Third force' link to unrest

GRAEME HOSKENand SIPHO MASOMBUKA | 07 February, 2014 00:00

A "third force", suspected of being behind the deadly service delivery protests in Gauteng, is at the centre of a high-level security probe.

Allegations emerged yesterday that political parties and other groupings have been infiltrated by people wanting to further destabilise violence-racked communities.

On Wednesday, people wearing ANC T-shirts opened fire on protesters in Sebokeng, in the Vaal Triangle, killing Lerata Rabolila, 26, and injuring a 34-year-old man. The protesters, residents of the Boiketlong informal settlement, were demonstrating about the lack of housing and land.

Gauteng community safety MEC Faith Mazibuko yesterday ordered the police to investigate the "invisible hand" of a suspected "third force".

Mazibuko's spokesman, Thapelo Moila, said: "These protests, particularly in Sebokeng, have an element of people influencing the community."

Yesterday, Boiketlong remained a no-go zone for a second day, with residents taking control of a railway line, erecting burning barricades and closing schools.

"We will not leave until we have justice. We want those who killed Lerata to be caught.

"The ANC is behind this. Their members, wearing ANC T-shirts, tried to stop us protesting. When they couldn't, they shot at us," said community leader Elvis Motaung.

But a Sebokeng community leader, Themba Mnisi, said "another force" was destabilising the area.

Rabolila's grandfather, Simon Botsane, said: "He went to protest for our rights, for a better life for his family, not to come home in a coffin."

Institute of Security Studies policing researcher Johan Burger said ANC T-shirts could be worn by anyone.

"There is real fear that this new development could become a trend," he said.

Political analyst Aubrey Matshiqi said though it was dangerous to link protests to the forthcoming election, the "division" of communities was concerning.

Sebokeng's destabilisation follows days of violence in Bronkhorstspruit's townships of Ekangala, Zithobeni and Rethabiseng, near Pretoria.

Tshwane mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa said yesterday the protests were "perpetuated" by people who had no intention of paying for services.

"[The lack of] service delivery is when there is no electricity, roads, sports and health facilities. This is not the case here," Ramokgopa said. - Additional reporting by Olebogeng Molatlhwa

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