CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Hundreds of protesters looted shops, overturned rubbish bins and smashed car windows in Cape Town on Wednesday as police struggled to contain a mob rampaging through the heart of South Africa’s top tourist city.
Riot police in full body armor cordoned off roads in the city center, where a large crowd, many wearing ruling ANC regalia, were protesting against a lack of state housing in the only metropolis governed by the official opposition.
The protesters, who set alight plastic rubbish bins in front of the provincial legislature, also targeted informal traders and ransacked their stores.
“We have to protect ourselves from these thieves,” said Senegalese trader Seyni Diop, who was armed with metal pole to protect his stall in Green Market Square, a spot popular with foreign tourists.
Police said they fired one stun grenade.
Andile Lili, a disgraced member of the African National Congress (ANC) who organized the protest, told reporters he would ramp up activity against the Democratic Alliance, South Africa’s official opposition, ahead of next year’s general elections.
Lili is already facing criminal charges for flinging human excrement in public places as part of protests to highlight the lack of proper toilets and sanitation in Cape Town’s shanty towns.
Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Cropley