News / South Africa

Steven Tau
1 minute read
3 Feb 2017
6:11 am

‘War room’ operations vital to curbing violent protests, says expert

Steven Tau

Municipal IQ said such operations were designed to address community complaints before they spiralled into a destructive force.

FILE PICTURE: Angry residents seen during violent protests. Picture: Alaister Russell

Service delivery protests were lower last year than at any other time since 2011, but they had a noteworthy element of violence that marred them.

This was according to the Municipal IQ, a specialised local government data and intelligence organisation monitoring the phenomenon.

The group’s economist, Karen Heese, said violent protests increased from representing 75% of all service delivery demonstrations between 2004 and 2015, to 86% last year.

“Although there were fewer service delivery protests, those that occurred were more violent,” Heese said.

Managing director at Municipal IQ Kevin Allan said Gauteng was subject to the most service delivery protests last year. It was followed by the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, respectively.

Analysis by Municipal IQ also suggested trends around violence (including the torching of schools) underpinned the importance of the “War Room” and other coordinating operations designed to address community complaints before they spiralled into a destructive force.

“Equally, for municipalities and councillors there is no time for complacency,” Heese said.

“Communities expect delivery in the new term and there remains a profound risk that protests may increase in 2017.”

Meanwhile, most of last year’s protest action was mainly at institutions of higher learning during the #FeesMustFall movement’s demonstrations.

Here, police clashed with protesting students and several university buildings were either damaged or torched during the unrest.

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