One officer was injured in the running battles between the about 3 000 people and the police.
Chaos broke out in the morning when the residents gathered near the provincial traffic office and burnt tyres. They were demanding the delivery of basic services.
Police spokesperson FC van Wyk said protestors pelted stones at the Vredenburg police station and damaged vehicles.
He said the 38 people arrested on charges of public violence were between the ages of 20 and 59.
“At about 5.30am the community of Ongegund (the broader informal settlement) started protesting about poor service delivery.
“They started to throw stones at the Vredenburg police station and damaged vehicles. The R45 road is closed, as well as Main Road, Vredenburg,” Van Wyk said.
“A case of public violence was registered for investigation. ‘One police member was injured.
“Police and other law enforcement agencies continue to monitor the situation.”
The Saldanha Municipality cautioned people, saying: “An illegal march and protest action is under way in Vredenburg, perceived to be related to service delivery.
‘‘The South African Police Service has brought in the Public Order Policing reserve units to assist, and cordoned off Main Road, leading into Vredenburg.
‘‘The situation is under control and the safety of motorists and the community is secured.
‘‘Saldanha Bay Municipality encourages residents to remain vigilant and to exercise caution until further notice.”
Simultaneously, in Ceres, in the Witzenberg Municipality protests erupted on the R43 and R46, and a number of roads had to be closed to traffic.