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Riots hit South Africa's capital over mayoral candidate

South African rioters have blocked roads, looted shops and burned vehicles 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. In the past year, violence and vandalism have also hit some universities and other schools as students protest high fees and voice other grievances.

The unrest in Pretoria began on Monday and affected several poor areas on the periphery of the city, including Mamelodi and Atteridgeville.

One Mamelodi resident 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," he said.

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.

Rioters stoned some emergency vehicles, and ambulances were unable to reach sick patients in some areas, reported the African News Agency, a South Africa-based media outlet. Authorities closed a section of a major road north of Pretoria because of the violence.

The South African government appealed for dialogue and condemned the violence, saying in a statement: "Perpetrators will face the full might of the law."

There were no immediate reports of casualties or arrests.

Pretoria is home to government ministries and foreign embassies.

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 Mr Ramokgopa has backed Ms Didiza as his replacement, according to the African News Agency.


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