JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rioters looted shops on the outskirts of South Africa’s capital on Wednesday, and authorities reported two deaths and more than 50 arrests since violence erupted in the Pretoria area two days ago.
Looters targeted shops in the Mabopane and Ga-Rankuwa neighborhoods belonging to immigrants, echoing similar attacks last year against foreigners, including Pakistanis and Somalis, who run businesses in poor urban areas of the country.
Police fired rubber bullets to disperse crowds in Mabopane, where people ran out of one store with stolen groceries and other goods, according to South African media reports.
Two people were fatally shot in the Mamelodi district, the South African police force said on Twitter.
Police arrested 54 people on charges of public violence, theft and possession of stolen property, the government said in a statement. It said stability was returning to some areas, while violence persisted in other districts.
“The attacks and looting of shops show that some of the protest actions are motivated by pure criminality,” the government said.
The violence started Monday after the selection of the ruling party’s mayoral candidate for Pretoria ahead of local elections on Aug. 3. Some residents said they were not adequately consulted about the selection.
The rioting has raised concerns about security ahead of municipal elections nationwide on Aug. 3.
Follow Christopher Torchia on Twitter at www.twitter.com/torchiachris