Expats and business travellers warned over possible SA general election street protests

Published:  3 May at 6 PM
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Expats and business travellers to South Africa are being warned to avoid the streets on the 8th May 2019 general election day.

Employers are being advised to be aware of possible risks to their expat employees from street demonstrations and protests, as these have a chance of becoming violent. A good number of UK companies have their regional headquarters in the country’s major cities, with political demonstrations known to occasionally end in street fighting or worse. Although South Africa is regarded as a popular expat professional destination, social unrest has always been a safety issue for foreign residents as well as business visitors.

Most expat residents are fully aware of the risk of opportunistic street crime including bag-snatching, pick-pocketing, carjacking and smash and grab raids and have learned the best ways to avoid hotspots, but political demonstrations have the ability to spread into residential neighbourhoods, taking residents by surprise. During the election, expats and visitors are being advised to stay clear of university campuses, townships and their approach roads and central business areas as well as political sites.

Although the risk of terrorist attacks is miniscule, employers are being advised to check with the authorities on a regular basis as regards warnings during the general election, and hospitals are being told to prepare for possible problems. Travel risk plans for employees should be put in place, run by a security team with local knowledge and experience in dealing with outbreaks of violence. For visitors as well as resident expats, common sense is the best defence if you find yourself in a potentially vulnerable situation.
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