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Protests shut down major South African highway

Published on 10/08/2012

South African protesters on Friday shut down a national highway leading into top tourist city Cape Town where they hurled a petrol bomb at police officers, blocked roads and set tyres alight.

Police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at several hundred people protesting for better government services which also temporarily closed an access road to Cape Town International Airport from the highway, local media reported.

“Currently on the scene it is quiet but very tense still,” said police spokesman Captain Frederick van Wyk, who added that the road was being cleared.

Police have arrested 62 people and more than 500 people have been driven away from an area of shacks bordering the N2 highway which is a main artery in and out of the city.

“We can confirm that one petrol bomb was thrown at the police but there was no damage and no injuries to policemen,” he told AFP, saying the protest was over demands for government service delivery.

Cape Town authorities have blamed recent protests on threats by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s youth league to make the city ungovernable.

The Western Cape province and Cape Town are the only province and metropolitan area governed by the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).

DA leader Helen Zille and Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille laid criminal complaints last week relating to intimidation against the ANC, the youth league and others over a call for unrest if a memorandum with several demands were not met.