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Civil Unrest Alert-South Africa

The Situation:

Safety and stability in certain parts of the country has deteriorated.

What Happened:

On 29 June, Former South African President, Jacob Zuma was sentenced to a 15-month imprisonment for contempt of court after failing to appear in court for a corruption case. On 13 July, he turned himself in to prison authorities after they threatened to bring him in.

Following Former President Zuma’s sentencing, protests erupted in the Provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng and have progressively worsened from peaceful gatherings to violent lootings. Major roads blocked by burning tires and vehicles were reported with many violent events surrounding shopping centers.


The South African government deployed 2,500 military troops to assist local law enforcement and control the widespread looting and arson. Police responses included the use of rubber bullets and teargas but have been unsuccessful in controlling the situation, even with military assistance.

Since 9 July, over 800 people have been arrested and at least 72 people have died; 10 of those deaths were a result of a stampede during a violent looting in the township of Soweto, on the west side of Johannesburg; 6 other deaths were reported in Johannesburg.

Key infrastructure such as national roads have been affected, slowing down the transportation of goods and services. Some roads, banks, businesses, and other services have also been closed due damage and/or out of an abundance of caution.

Significant events are noted in the map below in relation to O.R. Tambo International Airport.

Possible Effects:

• Delays or cancellations to bus, metro, and suburban rail services

• Possible protests, demonstrations, riots, and looting

• Blocked roads due to demonstrations and arson

• Limited transportation options and disruptions to public transportation

• Limited supplies available within the Provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

• Increased presence of local law enforcement and military personnel

Mitigating Factors to Apply:

• Prepare for disruptions caused by protests, such as increased traffic/security, blocked roads, and potential travel into demonstration sites (i.e. airports, highways, government buildings)

• Check the local situation (local and social media, embassy, POC at the destination, etc.) prior to travel

• Avoid major shopping centers and malls

• Allow extra time to travel to/from the supplier, airport, and accommodations

• Avoid travel through major cities, instead using bypasses

• Avoid all protests and demonstration, which have the possibility of turning violent and may serve as a catalyst for Covid-19 spread

• Practice social distancing or wear a mask when it cannot be maintained

• Monitor local and social media for updates

• Enroll in a Safe Traveler program to receive warnings from your preferred embassy

• Plan for alternative transportation, if necessary

• Adhere to local laws and follow the instructions of law enforcement at all times

DISCLAIMER and Hold Harmless Disclaimer: LSDS™ gathers information from multiple sources and offers insight and perspective to travelers. Sources cannot be validated for accuracy in every instance. Travelers assume all risk associated with their travel and are responsible for the decisions associated with travel and for their own safety. Users of this reference document agree, to hold harmless LSDS™ (LLC) its employees and clients associated with any risk or injury incurred during travel.


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