Image: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock
Civil unrest and protests accompanied by violence, obstruction and destruction are a sad, but common reality in South Africa.
Worryingly for motorists, these events are frequently staged on some of the busiest urban streets and even national roads, in and around cities and towns across the country.
And even more disturbing is that the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had little effect on the country’s appetite for protests.
Quoting Police Minister Bheki Cele, Defenceweb‘s Guy Martin recently reported that South Africa had recorded more than 900 service delivery protests in just six months, between 1 August 2020 and 31 January this year — and that the pandemic had done little to stop them.
Cele, who provided the figures in response to parliamentary questions, reported that police had made a total of 657 protest-related arrests during the same period “in which illegal road closures were erected that infringed on the constitutional right of freedom of movement”.
Martin also reported that the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Africa last year warned that “protests in South Africa are here to stay”.
And, according to the Institute for Security Studies Protest and Public Violence Monitor — which has been monitoring protests since 2013 — the number of protests across South Africa over the past seven years averages out at 2.26 per day.
Being caught up in a violent protest in South Africa is certainly no joke for any motorist or their passengers, who could experience anything from disruptive inconvenience to severe trauma, damage to property and even physical violence.
Accordingly, ordinary motorists and all other road users are advised to consider all available preventative measures and potential steps to take when encountering a protest being held on a road.
While it may well be obvious, but it can’t be overstated: The best way to protect yourself and your passengers is to simply avoid areas affected by unrest at all costs.
If you are planning a trip, it will also help to keep a close watch on media services and even social media in order to be aware of any unrest or protests taking place or which may potentially take place on or near your route.
South African driver training specialists MasterDrive recently published the following tips around protests for motorists. Provided by managing director Eugene Herbert, MasterDrive agrees that avoiding protests is the first and best step to take.
Herbert concludes that while avoiding unrest completely remains the best options for drivers, motorists should aim to never to be surprised by a volatile event on the roads and most importantly, South African drivers should be prepared for every scenario.