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Civil Unrest Increasing Security Risk to Business Logistics and Operations in Cape Town

26 July 2020


Civil unrest has accelerated in Cape Town this month, presenting direct security threats and logistical challenges to business logistics and operations in the city. The spike of violent protests will almost certainly persist during the coming months amid mounting public grievances over land distribution and economic stress associated with South Africa's COVID-19 pandemic. VoxCroft recommends a higher degree of security precautions in the near-term to bolster protection of staff, assets, and critical infrastructure.


Cape Town has emerged as a hotspot for civil unrest in South Africa during the month of July, with a high concentration of violence occurring along key logistical routes used by clients. VoxCroft observed at least 37 security-related incidents near client sites during the month, according to VoxCroft's collection of open source media.

  • Land-related protests in Cape Town increased sharply during July, causing significant transportation disruptions on nearly every major route into and out of the city, according to media reporting. Khayelitsha experienced the highest number of violent land protests, affecting the N2 and R310 routes into and out of Cape Town.

  • South African truck drivers on 7 July threatened nationwide disruptions due to grievances over the employment of foreign nationals throughout the economy, according to a report on eNCA. This threat was followed by several days of violent incidents involving truck drivers throughout the country, which affected routes to several client sites.

VoxCroft estimates that violent protests and civil unrest are likely to intensify during the coming months due to mounting public and social grievances over land ownership, and deepening economic stress associated with South Africa's protracted COVID-19 lockdown. The recent wave of Cape Town unrest reflects a broader discontentment among the lower income groups of society, who are battling the destructive legacy of Apartheid's spatial planning -- resulting in a dire housing crisis on the Cape Flats -- and the City's heavy-handed eviction programs. These factors, exacerbated by deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, present a perfect storm for continued instability.

  • Cape Town appears to be a particular hotspot, with the land issue threatening to continue to be a focus of civil unrest activity in the near term. Protest action by the South African Municipal Workers Union in Pretoria suggests that further wage-related protests can be expected. The protracted government lockdown is likely to intensify the economic pressures on marginalized groups across the country.

VoxCroft recommends enhanced security precautions in the short term, with a high likelihood of increased levels of civil unrest and security threats. VoxCroft will continue to provide clients with real-time monitoring and alerts of security incidents near critical locations and transportation routes, as well as expert analysis of the contextual factors driving South Africa's security trends.


Increase in Reported Civil Unrest Events in South Africa


Location of Events Generating Alerts - July 2020