Riots in pretoria over mayoral candidate
South African rioters blocked roads, looted shops and burned vehicles yesterday in several areas of the country's capital, Pretoria, in a show of anger over the selection of the ruling party's mayoral candidate ahead of local elections.
The violence raised concerns about security ahead of the August 3 elections in South Africa, where periodic unrest over the lack of basic municipal services already stretch police in many poor communities.
In the last year, violence and vandalism have also hit some universities and schools as students protest high fees and voice other grievances.
The unrest in Pretoria began Monday and affected several poor areas on the periphery of the city, including Mamelodi and Atteridgeville. Mamelodi resident Lucky Pule said people burning vehicles tried to stop others from filming it with their mobile phones. He described a chaotic scene.
"I was scared, especially when the other bus's diesel tank started exploding. It exploded and then the fire was all over the place," Pule told an Associated Press videographer.
Nineteen buses were burned in Mamelodi, the transport ministry said.
"These actions paint a negative picture of our country and makes it a mockery in the eyes of the nation," the ministry said in a statement.
The South African government appealed for dialogue and condemned the violence, saying, in a statement: "Perpetrators will face the full might of the law."
Some residents said they had not been adequately consulted over the selection of Thoko Didiza, a former cabinet minister from the coastal city of Durban, as mayoral candidate for the African National Congress in local elections.
They want incumbent Kgosientso Ramokgopa to stay, though Ramokgopa has backed Didiza as his replacement, according to the African News Agency.