Residents of the Free State's Zamdela township, which is in Sasolburg, started to strike on Sunday to express their displeasure about plans for Sasolburg to be merged into the Ngwathe Local Municipality, which also includes Parys. According to the SABC, the residents were protesting because Free State premier Ace Magashule made the decision unilaterally, and they wanted him to come explain why he thought he did not need their input.
The residents created havoc, looting shops in the township, breaking windows, and destroying what they could. Almost ninety people were arrested by the end of the day, while more people were arrested at about 3am on Monday morning as they continued to loot shops, according to police spokesperson Constable Peter Kareli.
It is estimated that about 150 protesters had been arrested by Monday morning, although official numbers have not been tallied yet. The arrested protesters will be charged with public violence.
Meanwhile, the Zamdela residents continued to protest on Monday morning, barricading roads and throwing stones. Two police officers had been injured after their vehicle became stuck in mud and protesters attacked them.
According to Kareli, the situation was now "critical", with water cannons and rubber bullets being deployed to attempt to quieten the masses. He added, "The situation is volatile."