The sustained series of service delivery protests over the past three months is a record for a single quarter since we first started keeping a tally in 2004. In addition, protests staged against municipal performance (or lack thereof) have become more violent in 2018, according to data from our Municipal Hotspots Monitor, with nine out of every 10 protests impinging on the rights of others to go about their daily lives — whether it be to commute safely, attend school or keep a business running — without fear of looting or arson. Traffic reports include almost daily road closures caused by protests. This phenomenon is an important one, raising the ire of no less than the cabinet, which described such protests as an "act of economic sabotage". The great irony of road closures is that while they seek to escalate grievances in the public gaze, the disruption they cause undermines the substance of grievances and risks criminalising protesters’ actions, especially where these spin out of ...

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