At least four people have been killed in South Africa amid turmoil due to protests that erupted over the country’s energy crisis.
The protests began Monday when residents, angry at the high cost of basic energy services, barricaded roads with burning tires and then set a municipal building on fire in Thembisa township, which is just northeast of the financial hub of Johannesburg, Dhaka Tribune reported.
Authorities reported that two people were killed in alleged police shootings when the protests initially broke out.
“It’s alleged they have been shot,” municipal police spokeswoman Kelebogile Thepa said, according to Dhaka Tribune.
Later that evening, it was reported that two more bodies had been found near the entrance of the burned municipal building.
The protests take place against the backdrop of an overall energy crisis in South Africa.
The state-owned power utility Eksom Holdings SOC Ltd. warned that due to a shortage of generation capacity, it may have to start implementing rolling blackouts again, Bloomberg reported.
Eksom has already had to implement 84 blackouts this year as it struggles to meet the demand of electricity with its aging coal-fired power stations.
Do you think that South African could be on the verge of energy collapse?
This has consequently hindered economic growth and business all over South Africa.
“Sentiment in the manufacturing sector soured in July, according to Absa Group Ltd.’s purchasing managers’ index that dropped to the lowest level in 12 months,” Bloomberg reported.
But now, it is not just manufacturers and businesses that are getting frustrated, but also residents.
Former President Thabo Mbeki even warned that the country could see uprisings similar to the Arab Spring of the early 2010s, as discontent is triggered throughout the population, the Dhaka Tribune reported.
In videos on Twitter, the wreckage and destruction of the protests have been circulating.
“Protests in South Africa are raging on. The public is protesting record-high electricity prices and a skyrocketing cost of living. Take a look at the chaos in Tembisa,” Johns Hopkins economist Steve Hanke tweeted.
Another video on Twitter shows more chaos amidst the burning and protests.
South Africa is still recovering from an extreme outbreak of rioting and looting last year that left more than 350 people dead, which was some of the worst violence the country has experienced since the end of the apartheid era.
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