Southern Cape police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse a 3 000-strong crowd in KwaNonqaba in Mossel Bay on Monday.
This was after the protesters had torched a municipal buildings, set fire to a school, stoned cars on the N2 highway, and damaged police vehicles.
The violent service delivery protest started on Sunday.
The angry mob took to the streets over lack of basic services, including electricity cuts in their township, but the municipal manager’s office called the riots “politically inspired”, taking place as they did days before a by-election in the area on Wednesday.
Harry Hill, the town’s executive officer – strategic services, said municipal offices in KwaNonqaba and a municipal community centre had been torched while protesters also set Garden Route Primary School on fire.
Protesters also stoned vehicles on the N2, vandalised traffic lights and burnt tyres. Police vehicles at the police station were damaged.
“The fire at the school was put out before too much damage was caused,” said Hill. “The KwaNonqaba offices were, however, badly damaged. Traffic lights at the Mayixhale Street and Louis Fourie Road intersection were pulled out and bent.”
Hill said the municipality had been unable to access their damaged buildings, to assess the full extent of the damage, as protesters had continued to gather throughout the day.
Disputing claims of electricity cuts, Hill said there had been none, other than illegal connections that had been cut about a month ago.
The Southern Cape police said the situation remained volatile and they were still monitoring the area.
Spokesman Captain Malcolm Pojie said they were investigating a case of public violence as KwaNonqaba municipal offices, next to the police station, had been torched on Sunday.
He said protesters also targeted the police station and damaged vehicles parked in the yard.
Police arrested 13 people for public violence on Sunday but they had been released on Monday without being charged. He said the police had responded to sporadic incidents of tyres being burnt and roads been cordoned off in the area on Monday.
Meanwhile, the DA said it was “no coincidence” that the attack happened mere days before a crucial by-election in Ward 13.
“Most disturbingly, a DA councillor had to vacate his house because of intimidation and threats to his family, while the DA candidate in the upcoming by-election received an anonymous phone call, asking her to withdraw as candidate,” said the DA’s constituency head, Piet Pretorius.
The party added while the DA was running an orderly campaign in the spirit of free and fair elections, their opponents had “stooped to intolerance, threats, intimidation, violence and arson”.
Rubbishing the DA’s claims, the ANC’s southern Cape regional secretary, Putco Mapitiza, said people had serious issues about service delivery under the DA.