One child was killed by a stray bullet in Cape Town on Monday and another wounded when illegal residents fired at police seeking to prevent them from moving into social housing units, the mayor said.
Police in the coastal South African city have broken up several unlawful property grabs in recent weeks.
These so-called “land invasions” happen relatively regularly in South Africa, fuelled by rampant inequality and a lack of low-cost housing in urban areas.
But Cape Town’s latest “invasions” have turned violent, with squatters setting vehicles on fire and destroying community facilities as they clashed with law enforcement officials.
The situation escalated on Monday, when shots fired at police killed an eight-year-old boy and wounded a 12-year-old girl, Mayor Dan Plato said in a statement.
“Over the last month we have seen violent and coordinated land invasions in over 30 different parts of the metro,” Plato said, adding that almost 50 officers had been injured in clashes.
Cape Town security official Richard Bosman said the shots had come “from a crowd of people”, after which a gunman was identified but fled the scene.