South African protester 'pushed' from police van dies
15 January 2014, 16:32
Johannesburg - A South African protester has died after he was allegedly pushed from a moving police van during violent demonstrations, the police minister said Wednesday.
The 27-year-old died "allegedly after being pushed through a moving police nyala", Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said referring to the armoured vehicle in a statement.
His spokesman Zweli Mnisi confirmed the man was reportedly "pushed out from a moving vehicle", in comments to AFP.
The latest death brings the toll to three in protests over cut-off water supply in townships near the capital Pretoria, which residents say police have violently crushed.
But local police spokesman Sabata Mokgwabone suggested the man, whose name was not given, had bolted from the vehicle while resisting arrest for public violence.
"He jumped out but fell on the tarred road where he sustained head injuries," said Mokgwabone in a separate statement.
Mokgwabone said an ambulance took the man to hospital after the fall on Tuesday and police only learnt of the death a day later.
Two other people died on Monday after allegedly being shot by officers during the protests in Mothotlung and Damonsville, where residents have reportedly been without water for at least a week.
The minister has appealed for calm and asked the country's police watchdog to "expedite" its probe into the three deaths.
Investigators expect a report in three months.
South Africa's police force has come under intense scrutiny since shooting dead 34 striking platinum miners in August 2012.
An inquiry is still underway into the Marikana massacre, and no one has yet been charged about the killings.
The youth wing of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) slammed police officers who "continue to function with an apartheid mentality when handling the affairs of maintaining public order and general policing activities".
No fresh incidents were reported Wednesday in townships between Pretoria and Marikana, and police said the "situation is returning to normal".
Violent protests over substandard delivery of utilities are common in South Africa.
Observers have counted hundreds of similar protests each year in Africa's wealthiest country, which is dogged by stubborn levels of inequality.
The latest protests come just months before a general election that will test the popularity of President Jacob Zuma's ANC government.