The Red Ants security service used rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people who were evicted from unallocated vacant apartments in Nellmapius in Mamelodi East, Pretoria on Monday morning.
But the residents said they had nowhere else to go.
Scores of people were left sitting on the side of the road with their belongings.
At one point, the Red Ants started shooting at the crowd and some people merely stood around in the vicinity of apartment blocks.
Many of those who were left without a roof over their heads told News24 they would not allow voting to go ahead until the housing issue had been resolved in Mamelodi.
Others said that while many of the apartments had not been finished yet, because sanitation or electricity facilities had not yet been installed, it did not deter them from moving into the flats.
"We come to a point where we wanted to secure this place," said one resident.
Another person said they were willing to pay rent and finish the units themselves because they were desperate to avoid ending up homeless.
Community members also said the apartments had been left open and unfinished for around three years. They moved into the units and they took up occupation earlier this year.
The situation outside the apartment blocks was emotional. Many refused to leave the area until government heard their pleas for help.
A 61-year-old woman was standing near one of the apartment blocks, after she was evicted, when she was shot in the leg.
Several other people were also shot and wounded as they ran for cover.
"We are not fighting with them, but they just started shooting at us," the elderly woman told News24.
This is a developing story. More to follow.