South Africa’s violent protests reached an all-time high in 2014, according to a report by the Multilevel Government Initiative at the Community Law Centre, released on Thursday.
“Both the number of civic protests and the prevalence of violence increased in 2014,” the centre said in a statement.
“In 2007 just less than half the protests were associated with some violence, but in 2014 almost 80 percent of protests involved violence in some form.”
This was according to the Civic Protest Barometer (CPB) which measures various trends in protest action in South Africa, it said.
It revealed that in 2014 there was an increase in the number of protests, reversing the downward trend evident after 2009.
“The number of protests in 2014 reached an all-time-high of 218. The previous maximum was 204 in 2009 (which was also an election year),” the centre said.
“The increase in 2014 is only partly due to the election held on May 7. Although April and May saw 25 and 30 protests respectively, almost as many protests (28) took place in August, three months after the election.”
Between 2012 and 2014, Gauteng had more protests than any other province. Since 2007 Gauteng’s share of protests had been rising more rapidly than any other province.
Cape Town was the most protest-prone municipality, with 84 protests, followed by Johannesburg, eThekwini, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni. These five municipalities accounted for half of all protests recorded, it said.
“Issues relating to municipal services and the administration of municipalities were cited more often as the cause of protests than all other grievances put together,” it said.
“In addition the barometer tests one hypothesis about the causes of protests, namely that it signals a ‘rebellion of the poor’, against the empirical data.”
The CPB covers the trends in the number of protests, geographical spread of protests, trends in violent civil protests and the grievances behind protests from 2007 to 2014.
The Community Law Centre is based at the University of the Western Cape. SAPA