Get ready for more rage
The number of violent service-delivery protests spiked this month and more can be expected.
The use of tear gas, stone-throwing, setting up barricades of burning tyres and community anger have become common around the country and Kevin Allan, of Municipal IQ, which monitors 283 municipalities and keeps track of service-delivery protests, says they are becoming more frequent.
The organisation found that 2012 accounts for 14% of the protests recorded since 2004 "with May 2012 recording more protests than any other month since 2004".
Most of the unhappiness arises from urbanisation - the flocking to the cities of people from poor rural areas to find jobs. They are forced to live in informal settlements lacking basic services.
Yesterday, there were service-delivery protests in Cape Town and Johannesburg. The police were called in to deal with disruptions in Delft and Elsies River, in Cape Town, and at the Zandspruit informal settlement, northern Johannesburg. In Johannesburg, police fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets to restore order.
Municipal IQ economist Karen Heese said protests had many underlying sources.
"[The causes of] the protests in May were as diverse as they were common. From demands for housing in Cape Town to a cluster of North West protests for tarred roads. The worrying [common] theme was that they were violent and demonstrated high levels of frustration," she said.
Western Cape has had more protests this year than any other province. The Free State is in second place; North West and Eastern Cape are joint third.
"Protests erupt for various reasons and there isn't a strong central theme apart from the fact that people are protesting about a lack of services," said Allan.
"What varies greatly and what isn't quite understood is what the drivers of protests are. We know that in Western Cape one of the key drivers is political activity. We know that a lot of protests are set off by conflict between the DA and the ANC. However we can't say definitively that this is the core reason."
But he said conflict between ANC factions has also led to service-delivery protests. This was particularly so in North West in 2009, the year Jacob Zuma became president.
Many promises were made by politicians in 2009 ahead of the national elections, when service-delivery protests were common.
But Allan said it is likely that 2012 will "eclipse the peak records of 2009 and 2010".
Protests started at the crack of dawn in Western Cape yesterday. In Delft, 150 people gathered to protest for better living conditions and for housing.
A 19-year-old from the Malawi squatter camp was arrested for public violence after he was caught setting tyres alight.
"The local councillor arranged a formal meeting with the community of Freedom Park and Malawi Camp to address their unhappiness," said police spokesman Warrant Officer November Filander.
At 9.30am the crowd dispersed but just 30 minutes later Elsies River residents gathered to stage a symbolic "mass funeral" at the municipal offices.
Residents burned their municipal arrears slips in a cardboard coffin.
"We are not going to pay the government our arrears. Eers kos dan arrears (first food and then arrears)," said community activist Mario Wanza.
Tomorrow similar funerals will be held in Netreg, Bonteheuwel and Langa, on the Cape Flats.
In Johannesburg metro police tried to bring the situation in Zandspruit under control.
Residents barricaded roads and threw stones at cars. Motorists were turned away from Beyers Naude Drive where protesters were burning tyres.
Johannesburg metro police spokesman Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said: "The situation was under control in the morning but then got out of hand with renewed protest action from residents."
Residents said they have been forced to make use of the bucket toilets system.
John Mukwevho, a resident, said: "There is waste everywhere you walk in the area.
"The police come here and tell us to go home but they have no idea what we are going back home to."
The police arrested 12 people for public violence in Zandspruit.