How to stay safe on the roads during civil unrest
Motorists and other road users in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are advised to plan their trips with care, avoid areas where civil unrest has been reported, and ensure they have access to security back-up if they need it.
The Automobile Association (AA) said it is concerned about the economic impact of recent riots on main roads, at toll plazas and in certain CBD areas, especially on the road freight sector.
“Millions of Rands of damage has been caused, and one of the country’s main supply networks has been compromised. But, worse than this, people’s lives have been put in danger and it appears, sadly, that for those innocent people who are at the wrong place at the wrong time, their security is in their own hands. We want to urge anyone who has any need to be in or near any of these areas where riots have been reported to either reconsider their travel, or find safer alternative routes.”
The AA said motorists should make sure they have a private security option in place in the event unrest flares up in the area in which they are travelling. It said such a private security option is necessary as an extension to police services which are under strain.
“We have seen certain areas flare up almost instantly in the last 48-hours and no-one can predict where it may happen again, if at all. Having a private armed security option to assist in such a situation has become non-negotiable and we urge anyone who is going to be on the road to consider subscribing to such services without delay,” said the AA.
The association has offered the following advice to road users who have to be mobile:
- Avoid travel to reported unrest areas.
- Use a smartphone GPS navigation system. While no guarantee, if it detects a blockage it will take you on an alternate route. If you must travel, find alternative routes to avoid unrest areas.
- Check the news and newsfeeds and social media for unrest areas on or near your route before you set off.
- If you must travel and you are using your own vehicle, ensure your vehicle is in good mechanical condition, and you have sufficient fuel in the tank.
- Do not travel with valuables such as expensive jewellery or clothing. Keep laptops and mobile devices out of sight, and travel with as little cash as possible.
- If possible, travel with a companion to avoid being isolated alone.
- Inform your employer if you will be stranded because of the riots, or because public transport such as the Gautrain or Rea Vaya have been temporarily suspended. Employers should show due consideration for people who are in difficult transport situations in terms of getting to work and back home.
- If you are in a situation where you feel your safety may be in jeopardy, activate private security services through, for instance, AA Armed Response via your smartphone or linked Bluetooth device
- Remember your vehicle and any other possessions are not as valuable as your life, and focus on your personal safety before anything else.
- If possible get to the nearest place of safety such as a police station.
- Do not engage with rioters and looters.
- Heed directives from authorities to not enter certain areas if they have been cordoned off.
“The ongoing unrest – which cannot be described as protests of any form – are damaging the country’s economy, and causing more harm the longer they remain unchecked. For many people negotiating unrest areas is a reality they cannot avoid and anyone who has to be in or near such areas must protect themselves,” said the AA.