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South African police on Monday monitored protests by the country’s leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party, which is demanding the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The party urged all South Africans to participate in a national shutdown but there was limited response in most of the country’s major cities.
At least 87 people were arrested for public violence and related offenses by Monday, police said.
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“At least 24,300 tires have been confiscated by law enforcement agencies. These were tires that were strategically placed for acts of criminality,” said police spokeswoman Athlenda Mathe.
Some protest marches were noted in various areas including Alexandra and Tembisa townships, east of Johannesburg.
Several roads leading to the center of the eastern suburb Kempton Park were closed as protesters marched to voice their grievances.
Economic Freedom Fighters members protest on the street in Tsakane township, South Africa, on March 20, 2023. South African police deployed in major cities on Monday ahead of planned anti-government protests by the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)
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“All South Africans should be protesting with us right now because loadshedding (power cuts) is affecting all of us. The government must know that we are suffering, especially us who are running small businesses,” said Cedric Cele, who joined the EFF demonstration in Kempton Park.
A heavy police presence was also noted in the capital, Pretoria, where police have been deployed to monitor any potential violence and intimidation against people who are not participating in the protest.
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The protest was meant to highlight South Africa’s power cuts which have seen households and businesses go without electricity for up to 12 hours daily.
Security forces were deployed to monitor the protests Monday, with government officials describing them as part of the EFF’s “regime change agenda.”
The EFF is South Africa’s third largest political party by representatives in the National Assembly.