Residents of two villages near Thohoyandou have been protesting for two weeks in anger over a murder in the area.
The protest was in response to a woman being killed in July, Brigadier Hangwani Mulaudzi said.
Twelve people had been arrested in Tshisahulu and four in Matangari since the protests began.
Residents blockaded roads, burnt tyres and threw stones at cars, apparently because police had not yet made an arrest for the killing. Police had found no evidence to support residents’ theory that it was a ritual killing. Mulaudzi said police had met with them to explain this.
“The [woman] was stabbed several times… Some people claimed it is a ritual killing,” he said.
Police even released certain details from the post mortem report, including the fact that no body parts were missing, in an attempt to convince them that the woman was not killed for muti.
Two independent sources had also verified there was no evidence to indicate this.
“We don’t know the cause of this thing, but we are aware there are some people who might be fuelling this [speculation],” Mulaudzi said.
There was concern that the protesters’ actions, such as blocking of roads, could threaten the services of the nearby Tshilidzini Hospital. More police officers had been deployed around the facility.
Mulaudzi said youngsters, including schoolchildren, were taking part in the protests.
“There are also criminal elements taking advantage of the situation,” he said.
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