By Anees Teladia
Violent and destructive service delivery protests have accounted for 76.6 percent of claims lodged with state-owned insurance entity, Sasria SOC Ltd, according to their executive manager for insurance operations, Fareedah Benjamin. The number of claims has dramatically increased since the previous financial year, amounting to nearly R2 billion worth in costs. Benjamin says that while South African’s have the democratic right to protest, they also need to remember their responsibilities and limitations.
“Our previous financial year was the worst financial year for Sasria in its entire history with the claims we received,” said Benjamin.
“We had over 5000 claims, amounting to just under R1.7 billion. Those monies could have gone to building schools, contributing to housing and all kinds of things to help the community.”
While 76.6 percent of claims lodged with Sasria were directly linked to violent and destructive protests, 89 percent of the money spent on claims was due to service delivery protests, according to Benjamin.
She says that “something has to change” in the way that South Africans conduct themselves during protests.
“We don’t dispute that in South Africa, we have the democratic right to protest. However, we don’t have any right to destroy property – and that’s what needs to change,” she said.
“In terms of the communities, there’s always a criminal element involved. In certain instances, people protest legitimately (in terms of their grievance), and then it somehow turns violent. In those instances, communities should take some responsibility for their actions and highlight the fact that it’s not ok.”
Benjamin reminded South Africans of the violent protests in 2016, which saw 21 schools burned in Vuwani, Limpopo. She explained that such actions cause immense damage to the South African economy and jeopardize the futures of South African children.
“A few years back in Vuwani, there were 21 schools burned in protest action due to demarcation issues. Not one of those schools were insured – so we couldn’t respond to the incidents. What happens when there’s no insurance? We can’t say how long it will take to rebuild in cases like that,” said Benjamin with disapproval.
“There are a number of claims increasing across South Africa, but [it’s] mostly service delivery protests with the damaging of property, vehicles, shops and looting.”
A post on the official Sasria website indicates that between the years 2012 to 2019, the insurance entity received over 20 000 claims. However, its most significant increase in claims occurred during the last two years, between 2017 and 2019.
According to Benjamin, Sasria received over 2 000 new claims during the first five months of the 2018-19 financial year – worth an estimated value of R1 billion.