A violent protest ripped through the Langa area on Monday night and Tuesday morning, with people stoning cars, setting a local post office alight and damaging Metrorail equipment.

Residents vowed to shut the area down until housing and service delivery issues are dealt with.

Several sources said opportunistic criminal elements were also at play in the unfolding events.

Late on Monday evening, protesters organised the protest on Social Network, calling for residents to prevent people from going to school and work. The tense housing and service delivery protest is linked to the N2 Gateway housing project.

On Tuesday morning metro police, the SAPS, traffic authorities and community leaders tried to quell tensions before dispersing the growing crowd of about 1000 with stun grenades.

City of Cape Town traffic spokeswoman Maxine Jordaan said: “People are protesting in the Langa area.”

Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said law enforcement were working hard to move the angry mob away from a library, which they also tried to torch.

Police spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Andre Traut said the protest was sparked late on Monday night.

“Police members will remain in the area to maintain law and order until we are satisfied that the situation has been contained. Approximately 1 000 people are protesting and throwing stones at trains in attempt to prevent commuters from going to work. No one has been arrested as yet.”

Metrorail regional manager Richard Walker said that services into the Langa area had been suspended because residents were targeting trains.

Between Bontheuwel and Langa Stations several track boxes, signals and apparatus cases were extensively damaged. Obstructions were placed on railway tracks and set alight, disabling inbound and outbound traffic. Langa Station and PRASA official vehicles were also stoned.

Metrorail and police were monitoring the situation but commuters were advised to expect major delays. Repairs and replacement could take several days.

Walker condemned the destruction of state-owned assets, calling it shortsighted and self-defeating: “This is infrastructure expected to assist with the transport learners and workers tomorrow – innocent people are now being deprived of transport for a selfish agenda. “We call on investigative authorities to find the instigators and perpetrators of such incidents and to apply the law to its full extent”.