Police fire teargas at S.Africa opposition march

By AFP
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By AFP

5/15/2012 4:00:01 PM -

JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South African police fired teargas during clashes Tuesday between the opposition Democratic Alliance and the most powerful trade union in Johannesburg, an AFP photographer said.

Marchers of the DA, angered by youth unemployment over 50 percent, threw stones and bricks, wounding bystanders and damaging cars, as hundreds of them marched on the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) head office.

Footage on eNews television showed DA crowds marching and singing with raised fists. Some carried placards calling for "Youth wage subsidy now".

Clashes broke out when they were met in the streets by supporters of Cosatu, part of an alliance with the ruling African National Congress.

DA leader Helen Zille, who led the march, blamed Cosatu for the violence.

"It was terrible. They didn't have permission to march and they used violence to disperse our march," Zille told AFP.

Police fired teargas at Cosatu supporters, dressed in red t-shirts, as they blocked off the DA marchers.

Cosatu spokesman Patrick Craven said the union "regretted the fact that there was an element of violence," but pointed out that supporters of both groups had been wounded.

The DA "have every right to march, but we see little point in a march" that is "provocative", Craven told AFP as protesters chanted around him.

The DA was marching to demand government wage subsidies for young people, which the party says will create over 400,000 jobs.

Cosatu opposes the subsidy.

Unemployment for 15-24 year-olds topped 50 percent, or more than 1.32 million people, in the third quarter of 2011, said the SA Institute of Race Relations, counting only people actively looking for work.

Journalist Nickolaus Bauer was hit by a stone in the clashes. He posted on Twitter a picture showing a bloody face wound.

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