two more bodies found in S.Africa pre-election violence
The death toll from days of pre-election violence in townships around South Africa's capital Pretoria has risen to five after the discovery of two more bodies Thursday, police said.
The unrest erupted Sunday over the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party’s choice of a mayoral candidate in Pretoria ahead of fiercely contested municipal elections due to be held nationwide on August 3.
Supporters of factions opposed to the candidate took to the streets, burning buses, stoning cars and looting shops in a wave of violence condemned by the ANC as “thuggery”.
The latest two bodies — one with gunshot wounds — were found in the early hours of Thursday in Mabopane, north of Pretoria, which is also known as Tshwane, police said in a statement.
“This brings to five the total number of bodies recovered since the start of the unrest in various areas in and around Tshwane on Sunday,” the statement said.
Nearly 200 people have been arrested.
Protesters complained that the ANC candidate for mayor, former government minister Thoko Didiza, was imposed on the local community by the national leadership.
Although Didiza lives in Pretoria, she is seen by some as an outsider as she is originally from the eastern port city of Durban.
Speaking to reporters for the first time on Thursday, Didiza said she was unfazed by the violence triggered by her candidacy.
“I do not think it reflects the feelings of the community of Tshwane,” she said.
“I therefore don’t feel in any way alienated, I feel part of that community.”
The situation in Pretoria Thursday was “calm but tense” police said, while local media reported fresh looting in Mabopane.
Several deaths attributed to tension between rival factions within the ANC have been reported around the country in the run-up to the elections, in which analysts say the party faces the possible loss of some major cities.
Municipal elections touch a raw nerve, dealing with issues such as unemployment, housing, water and sewage services in a country where many feel they have not benefited as they should have from the end of white minority rule.