'80% of SA protests violent'

South Africa has noted a dramatic increase in the number of violent protests over the past year.

A telephone booth was burnt after angry protesters in Bekkersdal destroyed public property during protests. Picture: Sebabatso Mosamo/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Almost 80 percent of service delivery protests are violent, according to the Crime and Justice Programme.

South Africa has recorded a steady increase of violence during protests throughout the country in recent years.

The Western Cape had the most violent protests in 2012.

Senior researcher at the Crime and Justice Programme Johan Burger told the Redi Tlhabi Show that the country had almost 2,000 violent protests in 2012.

"If you look at the number of incidents in 2008 when we had xenophobic violence in South Africa, there were just over 6,000 peaceful incidents and about 750 incidents of public violence. That has increased dramatically. In the 2012/13 period that increased from under 8,000 to 10,500 peaceful incidents but from about 750 to almost 2,000 violent incidents."

Burger said violent service delivery protests are caused by anger and frustration.

"Looking at some of these incidents especially service delivery protests almost 80 percent of those protests are violent. I think what we are seeing in all the violent protest action is anger and frustration because they take to the streets every year and still their protest remains unanswered."

Recently, Bekkersdal residents took to the streets demanding improved service delivery.

The protest turned violent when the community clashed with police. The residents barricaded roads and prevented children from going to school.

A 22-year-old man lost his life after he was shot during the protest.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma has condemned violent protests. He urged residents to exercise their right to protest but should refrain from violence and destroying municipal property.