Ugly protests rock South Africa's capital Pretoria ahead of mayor vote

Tuesday June 21 2016

Residents from Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, set a truck alight over dissatisfaction with the South African ruling party African National Congress (ANC) nominations on the candidates list for the upcoming municipal elections, on June 21, 2016 in Pretoria. AFP PHOTO | MUJAHID SAFODIEN

At least one person has been shot dead and several other people injured in Pretoria protests against South Africa's ruling ANC party nominee for the mayoral contest.

Nineteen buses belonging to Autopax Passenger Services were also burnt down, several shops looted and streets barricaded during protests against the naming of Mrs Thoko Didiza as the ANC Tshwane candidate despite her not being nominated in regional branches. Pretoria is located in the Tshwane municipality.

Residents of Atteridgeville suburb in Tshwane lashed out at the ANC's decision to put forward Mrs Didiza's candidature, saying a Zulu from the KwaZulu-Natal Province should not be brought in to lead them. Tshwane is in Gauteng Province.

The violence began on Sunday evening at the Tshwane Events Centre where branch leaders had gathered to discuss the candidacy.

Autopax acting CEO Bongani Kupe said it had suffered an estimated $1.9 million damage after 19 of its buses were set alight in Mamelodi, a township in Pretoria, during the violence on Monday night.

Mr Kupe said a decision was taken to suspend operations in Mamelodi after their bus drivers were assaulted.


“We’re trying to protect as much as we can so that no further damage can be incurred. We are working around the clock to see what we can do around this in order to rescue whatever is left,” he said.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said thugs masquerading as party members were behind the protests.

“Thuggery is taking over politics in Tshwane. I am concerned, that is why I am saying it is thuggery, and thuggery is bad for politics,” Mr Mantashe said.

The government has called on Pretoria residents to remain calm, pointing out that the current levels of violence were uncalled for.

In a statement, government said there was no issue which could not be resolved through democratic processes and dialogue.

It warned that law enforcement agencies would not tolerate violence, damage to property and infringing the rights and free movement of others.

It said perpetrators will face the full might of the law.