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SA Crime Quarterly

On-line version ISSN 2413-3108
Print version ISSN 1991-3877

SA crime q.  n.64 Pretoria Jun. 2018 



Unpacking discontent. Where and why protest happens in South Africa



Lizette Lancaster*

Manager of the South African Crime and Justice Information and Analysis Hub of the Institute for Security Studies' Justice and Violence Prevention Programme.




High levels of socio-economic dissatisfaction, persistent service delivery issues and increased political contestation necessitate closer monitoring of protest action. This article focuses on where and why protests happen. The findings draw on data collected by the Institute for Security Studies through its Protest and Public Violence Monitor (PPVM). Unlike other reporting systems, which tend to focus on specific types of protest, the PPVM seeks to provide comprehensive coverage and mapping of all forms of protest, including industrial strike action as well as political and group conflict. The findings highlight the wide-ranging nature of protests and illustrate how patterns of protests form over time in specific places. The article concludes by reflecting on how research into protest should not limit itself in scope. The ultimate aim of the research should be to inform the development of more appropriate responses by various role players to prevent violence and to encourage peaceful protests.



A series of protests, demonstrations, strikes and political violence can, if conditions are right, gradually turn into social unrest. Social unrest can take the form of peaceful, disruptive or violent demonstrations, strikes, and acts of political or civil violence.1 Ultimately, social unrest can be viewed as an expression of collective dissatisfaction with a political system.

Protest is therefore a form of political participation. A society's preference for the use of more conventional forms of political participation (such as democratic processes) can, over time, transform into unconventional political participation like violent protest or political violence. What is considered conventional across the world not only depends on the period in time in which it takes place, but also on the geographic location, and that particular society's definition of what is socially acceptable. Perceptions of what is legitimate political action can change, either as satisfaction with the state changes or as a growing number of citizens believe that peaceful protest or voting in elections are ineffective at raising their issues and achieving their goals.2

Recent research by Bohler-Muller et al.3 into attitudes towards different forms of protest in South Africa suggests that disruptive and even violent protest may be becoming more acceptable, given that a growing number of South Africans believe these forms of protest yield more successful results than peaceful protest action. According to this research, perceptions are also linked to when and how authorities react to various forms of protest.4

Existing research also illustrates that social unrest can build up over time.5 The period preceding unrest is characterised by action and inaction on the part of protestors and the authorities, and this may contribute to events escalating from protest activities into violence. For example, groups may express dissatisfaction through petitions and picketing. If satisfactory responses are not forthcoming from authorities, these groups may decide to mobilise and protest. If authorities turn down a request to protest and the police use forceful measures to disperse the group, the peaceful protest may escalate into violence.6

The research by Schroeter et al. further suggests that measuring a wide range of protest activities will provide a useful mechanism to monitor changes in the nature and extent of protest. Keidel measures the intensity of social unrest by the number of demonstrations, riots, armed infringements and strikes within a year.7This broad definition offered by Keidel provides a useful way to operationalise the measurement of protest in South Africa, which then allows us to quantify whether protest events have increased in intensity over time.

However, while the scale of a protest is important, deploying the appropriate responses to curb escalation will require that we monitor not only the frequency of protests but also the nature of the grievances being expressed and the places where protests are located. This article will focus on the types of grievances that give rise to protest action and describes the location of protests, using data collected as part of the Institute for Security Studies' (ISS) Protest and Public Violence Monitoring Project (PPVM).


Protest and Public Violence Monitoring project

In 2013, the ISS developed a database of crowd-based events that aimed to monitor the frequency, location, nature and extent of collective action activities taking place in South Africa.8 The database also seeks to track all forms of peaceful protest, crowd-based disruptions and violence occurring in public places. The PPVM collects information on community protest events of various kinds: protests against municipalities and other public sector services, industrial strike action, protests against crime, protests against private sector practices, and party-political protests. The system also monitors forms of violence associated with protest action as well as vigilantism, xenophobia, political conflict and other forms of crowd or inter-group activity.

Collecting better information on protest and related trends and on the nature and extent of this complex phenomena has the potential to contribute to an improved understanding of the nature, scale and patterns of collective action. This in turn can foster the development of more appropriate responses by state and non-state role players, most notably the police, municipalities, community and political leaders, and protest organisers,9 because they are better able to take into account current political and class struggles.



The PPVM's data is collected by scrutinising reports from more than 100 local, national and international online news sources as well as newsletters and notices by trade unions, political parties, and universities.

Incidents that are captured by the database include industrial strike action, vigilantism and political attacks - activities which normally fall outside the scope of protest analysis. However, the broad scope employed by the PPVM allows for an interesting analysis of the scale of collective action. This scope is aligned with the definition of social unrest by Schroeter et al., which includes events linked not only to civil protest but also to strikes and political and civil violence.10

The data capturing instrument collects information on more than 30 grievance types. For the purpose of this analysis, these grievances have been categorised into 13 broad categories, which span the spectrum from private sector services, corruption, housing/ land and transport, to xenophobia. The working definitions for each category are available in Appendix 1.

Relying on media reports alone poses substantial limitations. Firstly, not all incidents of public violence are reported in the media. Analysis by the University of Johannesburg estimates that only one in four events are reported in the media.11 Moreover, media reports tend to contain few facts about the exact nature of the event and its causes, and the extent to which there was violence or not. For instance, community-level protests are often reported as 'service delivery' protests but the exact grievances (that is, whether the protest is over water, electricity, housing, etc.) are not specified. Furthermore, reports may not focus on the primary grievances that led to a protest, but may highlight only the escalation into violence. For example, reports will cover attacks on businesses owned by foreign nationals during protest action, but not the original protest or, in some cases, the fact that local businesses were also targeted.12

As media organisations are typically based in metros and large cities, the coverage of events in those areas will be greater than in smaller towns and rural areas. In addition, coverage may differ from province to province, for the same reason.13 Lastly, media reports in various languages are not necessarily available online.14

The PPVM treats events as violent when they are described as such in the media and if, based on the reported facts, an incident may contravene the provisions of the Regulation of Gatherings Act and involve a criminal act of violence. The definition of protest also allows for the inclusion of events where violence is initiated not only by protestors but also by other parties such as law enforcement agencies or other groups.

The PPVM provides an open source, virtually real-time, geo-referenced record of a comprehensive list of crowd or collective actions that have the potential to escalate into disruptions or violence. An interactive map of all events is displayed online on the ISS's Crime and Justice Information and Analysis Hub at

The PPVM is by no means the only protest database available. The section below examines several other data collection efforts aimed at measuring and understanding protest, and discusses how these differ from the PPVM.


How do other measures of protest differ?

An increase in protests in recent years has sparked new research interest into the topic. Yet, the currently available sources of information vary greatly because of different data collection methodologies, counting rules, scope and variance in the definitions that they apply.

Arguably the most comprehensive source of protest or crowd gathering data in South Africa is that recorded by the South African Police Service's (SAPS) Incident Registration Information System (IRIS). This system is designed to capture crowd management activities and interventions by the Public Order Policing Units (POP units) during all types of crowd events.

A summary of the latest IRIS data is contained in the SAPS annual report. The 2016/17 annual report noted that the SAPS monitored 14 693 'crowd-related incidents' (including sports, recreational, religious and cultural events) between April 2016 and March 2017.15 Three-quarters of these events (n=10 978) were described as 'peaceful-related' incidents with the remaining 3 715 events (25%) termed as 'unrest-related' incidents.16 This represents a 10% increase in the percentage of 'unrest-related' incidents since 2013/14.

The Centre for Social Change (CSC) at the University of Johannesburg accessed the IRIS data for the period 1997 to 2013 through a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application.17 After an in-depth analysis of the IRIS data, it concluded that these 'unrest-related' incidents are not necessarily all violent but are labelled as 'unrest-related' because they required 'interventions' by the POP units. These interventions included actions such as directing or dispersing a crowd through the use of various crowd control techniques, including (often controversial) non-lethal crowd management equipment such as tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets and water cannons, or making arrests.18 Any crowd event not requiring intervention is regarded as peaceful.19

The 10% increase in the number of 'unrest-related' incidents over the four years since 2013/14 may well require a more nuanced analysis than merely equating this figure to an increase in the frequency of protest. This rise may rather be the result of the re-establishment of more POP units and the acquisition of more equipment in recent years. For example, by 2015/16, the SAPS had 28 POP units consisting of 4 617 operational members and support personnel. In 2016/17, the number increased by almost 9% in a single year to 5 025 members.20 This represents a 94% increase from the 2 595 members and 23 units in 2006.21 Following the closing of many POP units by 2006, the IRIS data showed significant decreases in recorded incidents, attributed to the decreased capacity of the units.22 The increase in units since 2013 has led to a greater capacity for (and therefore probability of) intervention by the SAPS, which, coupled with improved IRIS record keeping, has increased the frequency of protests on the IRIS database. The increase is therefore not merely a reflection of an increase in the actual number of public assemblies or protests.23

IRIS data entry practices remain fairly arbitrary and uneven due to the absence of enforced uniform protocols, definitions and categorisations.24 Furthermore, transparency in data collection practices is limited because the SAPS only releases the details of the events in instances where PAIA applications are made.

Besides IRIS there are several research organisations that capture protest action through media reporting. For ease of comparison, Table 1 provides a summary of the scope of events covered by these data collection efforts. The table also shows the reported frequency of events estimated by each database over the last six years (2012 to 2017).

There are clear differences in the data. The CSC (in a separate study to its in-depth analysis of the SAPS's IRIS data) collected 3 526 media-reported community protests (MRCPs) between 2005 and 2017, including all types of community protests and not only service delivery protests aimed at municipalities. This database showed 375 incidents for 2017.25

In contrast, Municipal IQ, a web-based data and intelligence service, focuses on municipal-level service delivery protests and publishes the Municipal Hotspots Monitor. Since 2004, the Monitor has collected data on 'major protests staged by community members (who can be identified as living in a particular ward) against a municipality, as recorded by the media (or other public domain sources such as SAPS press releases)'.26 Because of the narrow scope, the frequency of events is lower than that captured by the CSC and PPVM. In 2014 the Monitor recorded 191 protests, which decreased to 164 and 137 protests in 2015 and 2016 respectively.27 It recorded a slight increase in 2017, to 152 protests.28

The Civic Protest Barometer has also monitored trends relating to protest action at a municipal level since 2007.29 The Barometer is a project of the Dullah Omar Institute at the University of the Western Cape.30 Similar to Municipal IQ's data, the 2016 Barometer analysis shows that the number of 'civil protests' displayed marked increases in 2014 with 176 incidents, before decreasing again in 2015 to 126 incidents. The Barometer recorded the highest number of incidents in a single year in 2009, with 204 incidents.31 However, overall, it records slightly fewer incidents than Municipal IQ.

With the exception of the IRIS database and the PPVM, none of the local data recording efforts covers a broad definition of protests or incidents of public violence. These organisations measure either community-level protests or those targeting municipalities. Jane Duncan notes that 'the inherent assumption that community protests are largely aimed at local government failure, ignores the service delivery complexities and varying service delivery mandates of different spheres of government'.32

International data collection efforts also maintain a wide scope. One example is the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). ACLED describes its initiative as 'a disaggregated conflict collection, analysis and crisis mapping project. ACLED collects the dates, actors, types of violence, locations, and fatalities of all reported political violence and protest events across Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Middle East.'33 The Social Conflict Analysis Database of the Robert S Strauss Center at the University of Texas is affiliated to ACLED.34 It covers similar incidents in Central and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. The data is available for the period 1990 to 2016.

Similar to the PPVM, the ACLED database covers a wide range of protest action as well as forms of political mobilisation and violence (including police and other state action against civilians or battles for territory, political rallies and other political assemblies) since 1997.35However, ACLED differs from the PPVM and most local databases in the way it counts a single event. According to ACLED's counting rules, protracted events are counted multiple times in the database, as each day is counted as a single event for as long as each event continues. So, for example, a three-day #FeesMustFall protest action will be counted as three entries. For this reason, the number of events captured by ACLED is higher than that recorded in the PPVM. In 2017, it recorded 1 026 events of which 935 were described as riots or protests.36 A growing number of total protest days may well be an indicator of growing social unrest. However, the main aim of the PPVM is to measure the number and nature of distinct geographic events, rather than to produce an estimate of the number of total protest days alone.

Comparatively, the publicly available international data and IRIS cover a wider range of incidents than other databases, but the counting rules vary greatly from other local efforts. The PPVM covers a wide spectrum of events and has similar counting rules to local databases. Except for ACLED and the PPVM, none of the other databases offers freely available data, has a sufficiently wide scope, or provides the nuanced detail required to undertake an in-depth analysis on the location of protests, the number of protests over time in similar locations, or the socio-economic grievances leading to protests.37 Furthermore, there is also no agreement across the databases on what actions should be regarded as violent, disruptive or peaceful.


Key findings of the PPVM

Frequency of protest

Between January 2013 and December 2017, 4 391 incidents of protest and collective violence were recorded on the PPVM. Figure 1 provides a breakdown of all recorded events on the database per year since 2013.



The figure above shows that most incidents of protest and industrial strike action occurred in 2013, followed closely by 2014, a national election year. Substantial decreases in protest action were recorded in 2015 and 2016, despite the rise of education-related protest, most notably through the #FeesMustFall movement in 2016 and the local government elections.

Further analysis shows that these decreases at the national level were driven mainly by decreases in the levels of protest in Gauteng. This may be due to government interventions in place at the time that may have mitigated the impetus for protest, such as the formation of task teams to address community grievances. One such initiative, the Ntirhisano community outreach programme in Gauteng, aimed to foster trust and confidence in government by improving service delivery and accountability.38To date, the success of this programme is unclear and further research is required to understand the effectiveness of this programme in terms of its implementation and impact.

Between 2016 and 2017 the frequency of protest events increased by 42%. This may be related to the change in government in two of the main metropolitan areas in Gauteng after the 2016 elections, which may have reversed the public's positive view of the initiatives described above, as the effectiveness of these initiatives became strained due to a change in dynamics between the various spheres of government.

Seasonality of protest

The seasonality of protest is clearly depicted in the monthly trends presented in Figure 2. The number of incidents recorded in the first six months of 2017 surpassed the total number of all incidents in 2015. Thereafter, the numbers decreased quite substantially in the second half of the year. Traditionally, events peak around May to September each year and start dropping after October. December typically has the fewest incidents.

There are a number of possible explanations for these patterns. May is widely regarded as the start of 'strike season', as new salary negotiation processes commence across the country, during which wage disputes are declared between employers and their workers. Some of these processes lead to protracted negotiations and sporadic strikes across various industries, which continue for much of the South African winter months.39

The data shows that all types of protest peak during this period, not only labour-related industrial strike action. The winter months, which bring with them cold weather and increased vulnerability for many South Africans, seem to amplify the urgency for the delivery of services such as electricity and housing. These months thus see an increase in the number of protests.

The marked drop in the December period coincides with the closure of industries and schools in South Africa between mid-December and mid-January for the so-called 'festive season', when many potential grievance makers and service delivery agents are on leave and travel for the holidays.

Types of protest

The PPVM classifies each incident of protest action according to the crowd's main grievance, as identified in the media or other online source.40 A breakdown of these main grievance categories is contained in Figure 3.

Analysis of the data shows that most collective action between 2013 and 2017 has not been focused on highlighting the problems with municipal service delivery, but was more often related to industrial strike action (comprising 19% of all events.)

The second most recorded grievance category (accounting for 16% of incidents) consisted of grievances about the police's inability to reduce crime levels or to solve particular crimes.41

Protests around municipal services made up the third most recorded grievance category, contributing a further 16% of protest incidents.

Twelve per cent of the protests recorded by PPVM were education-related, which included grievances concerning basic as well as tertiary education (including #FeesMustFall).

A further 11% of the protests or crowd events related to politics or elections. Other prominent protest concerns related, among others, to housing and/or land, transport, other socioeconomic rights, xenophobia and corruption, and unfair business practices.

Further analysis of the data shows that protest incidents are frequently organised to express dissatisfaction with more than one grievance issue. For example, municipal service delivery protests may be focused on water and electricity delivery, and may raise problems regarding either terms of quality or quantity of services, or both.

The findings about overall grievance type are important because they illustrate clearly that most grievances do not relate to municipal service delivery specifically, but are rather an indictment of government services in general. Of particular concern is the large proportion of protests against the police and/or crime, and against the departments of basic and higher education.

Beyond basic municipal service delivery, the majority of protests illustrate the daily struggles of ordinary people to access their constitutionally protected socio-economic rights, such as access to jobs, fair wages, safety, decent education and transport. This includes grievances aimed at the private sector, although these were not nearly as prominent as grievances aimed at the state.

The sheer scale of protest aimed at this wide range of issues provides justification for the need to widen the scope of study to include all types of protest away from a narrow focus on 'service delivery', 'municipal services' and 'community protest'.

Violent protests

More than half (55%) of the incidents captured on the PPVM were termed 'violent' or 'disruptive' in media reports. The proportion of violent or disruptive incidents per year has been increasing year on year from 43% in 2013 to 65% in 2016, as Figure 4 below illustrates. It is interesting to note, however, that the percentage of violent or disruptive incidents recorded in the first six months of 2017 is lower than in 2015 and 2016.


Figure 4 - Click to enlarge


It is often difficult to clearly establish from media reports whether incidents are violent or simply disruptive. It is also difficult to know when the status of an incident may shift from being peaceful or disruptive into one that is violent. Yet, the distinction between what is regarded as violent or disruptive is important. Alexander et al. introduced this distinction to ensure that the popular narrative moves away from viewing protestors as violent unprovoked agitators, in an effort to be 'more sympathetic to protesters and to the history of protest'.42 International literature suggests that the likelihood of an event leading to violence is influenced by several factors, including actions or a lack of action on the part of both protestors and other roleplayers (such as the police or the party the protest is aimed at). Examples include heavy-handed policing practices or a lack of responsiveness by the relevant government department.43

Location of protests

The events in the PPVM database were analysed by type of location, in other words, whether they took place in metropolitan, urban or rural areas.44 Two-thirds (67%) of the incidents took place in metro areas, while 17% and 16% took place in urban and rural areas respectively. Metro areas often experience challenges because of rapid urbanisation, higher population density and migration.45 Exceptional growth of the metros gives rise to increased demand for basic municipal services and other socio-economic rights such as housing, land, healthcare, education, infrastructure, transport, employment and security.

Urbanised provinces are predominantly the location of most protest events. Figure 5 below shows that almost one-third of all events took place in Gauteng (31%), followed by the Western Cape (20%), KwaZulu-Natal (16%) and the Eastern Cape (14%). These provinces are the most highly populated and most urbanised, and therefore contain the largest metro areas. The Northern Cape experienced the lowest percentage of protest and strike action (1%), closely behind the Free State (2%), Mpumalanga (4%), North West (5%) and Limpopo (7%). These proportions remain largely unchanged even where strike action (which favours largely industrialised provinces) is excluded from the analysis to examine whether provincial patterns of non-labour related community protest differ.


Figure 5 - Click to enlarge


Some locations experienced a higher frequency of protest action than others. One of the simplest yet most effective ways to analyse data spatially is through mapping. The frequency of protests at different locations can be measured over time to yield so-called protest 'hotspots'.46 Hotspot analysis can be done to look at patterns of distribution in protest for a specific moment in time, and can also be used to determine any changes in hotspots over time. For instance, hotspot maps can show changes year-on-year or month-on-month, or can visualise data for a particular election period. The formation of hotspots illustrates that certain areas experience persistent protest action. Hotspot analysis is therefore a useful planning and monitoring tool to facilitate targeted and sustained interventions in areas where protests occur frequently.

The map below shows the Gauteng protest hotspots that were calculated using PPVM data between January 2013 and March 2018.47 With geographic information system (GIS) software, protests were clustered within a 2.5km radius to estimate where most protest hotspots are located. The intensity of the hotspots was based on the frequency of protests at locations, using statistical calculation methods such as kernel density estimates.48 Areas on the map coloured in dark blue have the highest proportion of such incidents, while the yellow areas have the lowest. Areas with no colouring presented no such incidents.


Map 1 - Click to enlarge


The map highlights that the location of a protest matters because social actions occur in some or other location.49 Most protests take place because of a grievance that persists or arises in a certain locale. For example, a community may protest because of water shortages in a specific area. The location of the protest is often the actual community or it can take place at the location of the delivery agent, e.g. the municipal offices. The protest can also move between locations. All efforts should be made to capture not only the location of the protest but also the nature of the protest and how it advances.

As a result of the importance of the location of protests, one can hypothesise that most political and collective actions centre around 'place-based interests'.50 Future research should examine why a protest takes place in one location but not in another. Furthermore, it is useful to understand why one group may protest over water shortages but another group not, faced with similar circumstances. These research questions require complex, multi-stage, nuanced, and in-depth analysis.


Concluding remarks

A comprehensive understanding of protest action necessitates the study of a wide scope of collective action including, but not limited to, protests aimed at municipalities and other narrow community interests. The PPVM is the only local, publicly accessible information portal that captures all forms of protest, disorder and public violence associated with social and economic discontent. Its findings therefore present an important contribution to what we know about the frequency and nature of protest and discontent.

The findings emerging from the PPVM data illustrate how wide-ranging protest grievances are, and how geographically widespread they are. Contrary to widely held opinion, the majority of grievances resulting in protest action are not about basic municipal-level service delivery issues, but include concerns about safety, education, employment and other broader socio-economic rights. While most protest is aimed at the state, the number of events mounted against the private sector in the form of strikes or business practices is significant.

Preliminary hotspot analysis suggests that the likelihood of escalation of protest action into violence is dependent on the frequency of protests in a place (highlighting the possible lack of resolution of issues) as well as the role played by parties such as the police, leaders or officials. Further research should focus on this.

The PPVM has its share of data challenges, and the project is adapting to address these concerns. For example, the PPVM data sources are being expanded to curb a dependency on media reporting. To this end, the ISS has developed a smartphone application to augment existing data sources. The Protest Reporter app allows members of the public to report incidents directly to the PPVM database, using a smartphone. It is available on both the Android and iPhone app stores, free of charge.

In May and June, this mobile phone application was tested among community activists in selected protest hotspots in Gauteng.51

Should the pilot prove to be successful, the application will be rolled out nationwide. The speed and success of the roll-out will depend on available capacity and financial resources, as well as the quality of partnerships with civil society organisations, academic institutions and government agencies.

The complex nature of protest requires more nuanced research into different forms of discontent, their impact, outcomes (whether positive or negative) and their perceived success or failure. A better understanding of protest could and should assist with the development of evidence-based policy to ensure the formulation of more appropriate responses by various role players such as municipalities, law enforcement agencies, political parties and community activists. This approach may reduce and prevent forms of violence associated with certain protests, and may better equip the SAPS to respond to protests, including those that are aimed at the SAPS itself.



* She holds a BCOM(Law) LLB and an MA in Development Studies. Her focus is the collection, analysis and dissemination of data and information to promote evidence-based crime- and violence-reduction policies and strategies.

1 R Schroeter, A Jovanovic and O Renn, Social unrest: a systemic risk perspective, Planet© Risk, 2:2, 2014, 125-134.         [ Links ]

2 Ibid.

3 N Bohler-Muller et al., Minding the protest: attitudes towards different forms of protest action in contemporary South Africa, South African Crime Quarterly, 62, December 2017, 81-92.         [ Links ]

4 Ibid.

5 Schroeter, Jovanovic and Renn, Social unrest; A Jovanovic, O Renn and R Schroeter, Social unrest, in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Reviews of risk management policies, 2012.

6 Schroeter, Jovanovic and Renn, Social unrest.

7 A Keidel, The economic basis for social unrest in China, Third European-American Dialogue on China, George Washington University, Washington DC, 26-27 May 2005, (accessed 8 January 2018).

8 The ISS Protest and Public Violence Monitor is kindly funded by the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

9 Some of the dynamics associated with these role players are described by Lancaster (2015) but fall outside the scope of this article. See L Lancaster, At the heart of discontent: measuring public violence in South Africa, Institute for Security Studies (ISS), Paper 292, 2016, 8, (accessed 10 June 2018).

10 Schroeter, Jovanovic and Renn, Social unrest, 126.

11 C Runciman et al., Counting police recorded-protests: based on South African Police Service data, Johannesburg: Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg, 2016, 22.         [ Links ]

12 Lancaster, At the heart of discontent, 9.

13 J Duncan, Are South Africa's protests really driven by rising expectations?, South African Civil Society Information Service, 6 October 2014,, accessed 10 June 2018.

14 A Nyar and C Wray, Understanding protest action: some data collection challenges for South Africa, Transformation: Critical Perspectives on Southern Africa, 80, 2012, 22-43.         [ Links ]

15 South African Police Service (SAPS), Annual report: 2016/17 financial year, Pretoria: SAPS, 2017, 142.         [ Links ]

16 The SAPS does not provide definitions for these categories in any of its documents. The distinction is explained in the next paragraph.

17 P Alexander, C Runciman and B Maruping, South African Police Service (SAPS) data on crowd incidents: a preliminary analysis, Johannesburg: Centre for Social Change, University of Johannesburg, 2015, 11.         [ Links ]

18 Ibid., 19; Runciman et al., Counting police-recorded protests; P Alexander, C Runciman and B Maruping, The use and abuse of police data in protest analysis: South Africa's Incident Registration Information System (IRIS), South African Crime Quarterly, 58, December 2016, 9-21.         [ Links ]

19 Ibid.

20 SAPS, Annual report: 2016/17 financial year, 141.

21 SAPS, Presentation at seminar on Violent Protests: Examining SA's Trends and Responses, ISS, Pretoria, 15 June 2016 (available from ISS).

22 SAPS, Annual report: 2015/16 financial year, Pretoria: SAPS, 2016, 152.

23 Alexander, Runciman and Maruping, South African Police Service (SAPS) data on crowd incidents, 17.

24 Alexander, Runciman and Maruping, The use and abuse of police data in protest analysis.

25 P Alexander et al., Frequency and turmoil: South Africa's community protests 2005-2017, South African Crime Quarterly, 63, March 2018, 27-42.         [ Links ]

26 Municipal IQ, Worrying recent uptick in service delivery protests, Press Release, 16 May 2017.

27 Ibid.; Municipal IQ, Gauteng and national service delivery protest figures fall, Press Release, 23 February 2016; Municipal IQ, Briefing 608: Final protest tally for 2015; off 2014 record, 12 January 2016.

28 Municipal IQ, First quarter protests for 2018 show consistent trends with previous years, Press Release, 6 April 2018.

29 TC Chigwata, M O'Donovan and DM Powell, Civic protests and local government in South Africa, in The civic protests barometer 2007-2016, Working Paper Series 2, Cape Town: Applied Constitutional Studies Laboratory (ACSL), University of the Western Cape and Dullah Omar Institute, 2016.

30 Ibid.

31 Ibid., 3.

32 Duncan, Are South Africa's protests really driven by rising expectations?.

33 Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), About, (accessed 13 April 2018).

34 Social Conflict Analysis Database, (accessed 13 April 2018).

35 ACLED, ACLED definitions of political violence and protest, (accessed 13 April 2018).

36 The remainder included 'battle- no change in territory', 'remote violence', 'strategic development' and 'violence against civilians'. The codebook and definitions are available at ACLED, (accessed 13 April 2018).
37 Lancaster, At the heart of discontent, 8.

38 South African Government, Premier David Makhura: Gauteng 2016 state of the province address, 22 February 2016, (accessed 10 June 2018); Gauteng Provincial Government, Ntirhisano, (accessed 10 June 2018).

39 One such example is a newspaper article by T Niselow, The start of strike season: what to expect, Mail & Guardian, 25 April 2018, (accessed 23 May 2018).

40 A short definition of each category is contained in Annexure 1.

41 Lancaster, At the heart of discontent, 10.

42 Alexander et al., Frequency and turmoil.

43 Lancaster, At the heart of discontent, 8.

44 The metro areas consist of the six category A metropolitan municipalities constituted in terms of section 155.1.a of the South African Constitution, namely, the cities of Cape Town, Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, Mangaung, Nelson Mandela Bay and Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipalities. Urban areas consist of non-metropolitan municipalities that contain large urban centres. Rural areas are defined as areas consisting of predominantly farming or traditional authority areas.

45 The metro areas are the eight Category A municipalities, namely the cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town, Tshwane (Pretoria), Ekhuruleni (East Rand), eThekwini (Durban), Nelson Mandela Bay Metro (Port Elizabeth), Buffalo City (East London) and Mangaung (Bloemfontein), as determined by the Municipal Demarcation Board, (accessed 10 June 2018).

46 Hotspots are defined as 'an area that has a greater than average number of criminal or disorder events, or an area where people have a higher than average risk of victimization', in J Eck et al., Mapping crime: understanding hotspots, Washington DC: National Institute of Justice, 2005, 2. Kernel density estimates is a statistical method used to estimate the location of data - in this case protest hotspots. Eck et al. explain that this method 'creates a smooth surface of the variation in the density of point events across an area'.

47 National, provincial and metro level maps were generated. The Gauteng map is a good example of the hotspot analysis because of the high number of incidents in the province and the shape of the province.

48 Eck et al., Mapping crime, 26.

49 A Abbott, Of time and place, Social Forces, 75, 1997, 1149-1182.         [ Links ]

50 JR Logan and HL Molotch, Urban fortunes: the politica economy of place, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.         [ Links ]

51 The process and findings will be documented in a future paper.



Appendix 1 - Click to enlarge

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