Consultancy Municipal IQ, which, among other things, monitors and compiles data on the South African phenomenon of service delivery protests, has highlighted how these events differ from the recent wave of looting in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, during which hundreds of people were killed.
First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.
"While service delivery protests in any given month are spread across South Africa, the vast majority of recent unrest incidents took place in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng [66% and 33%, respectively], and in metros [66%]," the consultancy said.
But the most stark difference lies in the L-word - looting.
"While service delivery protests can degenerate into acts of looting, this tends to be tangential to most such protests and tends to take place where protests are staged, rather than becoming the focus of protests," Municipal IQ noted.
Indeed, looting was only recorded in 16% of the service delivery protests counted so far in 2021, compared with 71% of the recent unrest incidents widely seen as triggered in part by the jailing of former president Jacob Zuma.
"Most service delivery protests, even those billed as #Shutdowns, are not typified by looting but rather the closing of businesses. Organisers also disassociate...