What to do when protests turn violent
South Africa has been riddled with protests in the last few years. Though many have started out with the intention of being peaceful, there is always the danger of things escalating very quickly, often with fatal consequences. But, how do you keep safe if you find yourself stuck in the midst of civil unrest?
Don’t go alone
The best way to stay safe is to plan for any mishaps ahead of time. If you are going to be attending a peaceful protest, be sure to go with someone you know. Stay close, so that if anything goes wrong, there is someone to account for your whereabouts. Be sure to have a ‘meet up spot’ in the event that you lose each other in the commotion. If you are in a big group, consider having an active chat group to stay abreast of what is happening on all sides of the protest.
If you aren’t interested in getting caught in any riots, try to stay up to date with the daily local news. Most protests and demonstrations are announced before the time. Try to stay informed about news, particularly regarding the route you travel each day.
If you find yourself caught up in a protest or riot, keep to the edge of the crowd where it is safest, World Nomads advises. Try not to be identified as one of the demonstrators by keeping well away from the leaders/agitators. As soon as it is safe to do so, make your way to the nearest building or open space. If possible, do not run, but walk away. Running may wrongly indicate that you are part of the riot.
The site continues that “In the event that you are arrested by the police/military, do not resist”. Go along peacefully and contact your representative when you are safe and in custody. The calmer you remain, the more likely you will be able to explain the situation to the authorities.