Co-operative Governance Minister Richard Baloyi had to act when he found out there was a total collapse of order in Zamdela, Sasolburg, he said on Thursday.
Baloyi was explaining to reporters his decision to stop the proposed merger of the Metsimaholo and Ngwathe municipalities, in the Free State.
"I received information that the people of Zamdela [informal settlement] are protesting... and that there was a total collapse of order in the area, all on reasons associated with the differences on a matter that had to do with local government structures... I had to act," he said.
Residents in the area embarked on violent protests on Sunday in opposition to the proposed merger.
Since then four people have died, several have been injured and hundreds arrested. Several cars have been set alight and government buildings damaged in Zamdela.
A demarcation task team would monitor and ensure all processes related to the proposed changing of municipal boundaries in the country were above board, Baloyi said.
He insisted that he had a mandate to stop the proposed merger to ensure that all concerns related to it were dealt with, "until we are satisfied that the manner in which it is done is so transparent that it leaves no space for people to find faults in the process, or reduce that to a minimum".
Baloyi said part of the ministerial task team's job would be to ensure that all those affected by the proposed merger had a say in the matter.
On Thursday, residents of the area began returning to work.
"Everything is under control, although the situation is still tense," said Colonel Motantsi Makhele.