This study is aimed at establishing the reasons for the recurrence of violent protests in a democratic South Africa. Above all, it is aimed at recording the grievances of those people who came to believe that this was the only way in which they could make themselves heard.
Each outbreak of protest had its own profile and dynamics. Local conditions and even the performance of specific individuals were among the triggers that set off confrontations.
However, it is clear that national issues often drove unrest in places that were off the beaten track, and out of the minds of metropolitan policy-makers.
It is in this interplay between national issues and local performance that municipal protest should be understood. Many municipalities face daunting problems, but still manage to cope.
In others, daunting conditions are met with weak management, hesitant or absent leadership, poor communication, political favouritism, and ineptitude. When this happens, as it did in both Phumelela and Khutsong, citizens eventually lose patience, and resort to violent protest.