High-risk areas and roads to avoid during EFF’s “national shutdown”

Hanno Labuschagne16 March 2023

High-risk areas and roads to avoid during EFF’s “national shutdown”


Two prominent South African private security companies have warned about the potential for violence and damage to property during the EFF’s upcoming “shutdown” protest next week.

South Africa’s third-biggest political party is planning to hold a mass protest against the country’s energy crisis, unemployment, and poor service delivery from midnight on Monday, 20 March 2023. It is also calling for the resignation of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The EFF is expected to get support from the South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu), the Patriotic Alliance (PA), Land Party, and Carl Niehaus’s recently-established African Radical Economic Transformation Alliance (Areta).

Many South Africans are unconvinced by assurances from EFF leader Julius Malema that the protest would be peaceful unless police and other security officials provoked participants.

Some have expressed concerns that rogue elements could use the protest as a front to carry out widescale looting, similar to what occurred during the July 2021 unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Others are worried that Malema’s inflammatory rhetoric would give his supporters the wrong idea, suggesting they resort to violence and vandalism to get their message across.

Malema has said that Monday would not be “business as usual” and warned that protesters would defend themselves if intimidated.

“Our point is clear, and we have been here before; this is the beginning of a revolution. Ramaphosa will never have peace as long as he does not step down,” Malema stated during a press conference on Monday, 13 March 2023.

Julius Malema, leader of the EFF. Credit: Sunshine Seeds / Shutterstock.com.

The Democratic Alliance has labelled Malema’s calls to action as “reckless”, warning it could have catastrophic economic consequences.

In the past few days, Fidelity ADT and Thorburn Security informed their clients and other relevant stakeholders of the possible impacts and high-risk locations during the shutdown.

Their information is based on intelligence networks that include research by specialist risk advisory service Topicworx, among other sources.

In a slideshow seen by MyBroadband, Fidelity said a large turnout was expected since many people likely took leave on the day due to the public holiday on Tuesday, 21 March 2023.

Thorburn Security CEO SJ Botha emphasised that there was no certainty that there would be violence, but it had a responsibility to keep customers informed about any emerging risks.

The two firms warned about the following possible impacts that the protest could have in South Africa:

  • Most national highways might be blocked with rocks and burning tyres; other roads could also be barricaded
  • Trucks may not be able to travel freely, impacting delivery schedules
  • Harbours could be locked down, impeding trade
  • Train tracks or railway infrastructure may be damaged, having a long-term impact on delivery schedules
  • Public transport like taxis, buses and trains may become inaccessible
  • Escalation of violence is possible if confrontations with police occur
  • Clashes between security officers and protesters could happen, should business premises come under threat
  • Transportation of coal by the mining sector is expected to be targeted
  • Possibility of racial tensions playing out in Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal

The table below summarises the high-risk areas, protester gathering sites and possible impacted routes as shared by Fidelity ADT and Thorburn.

Unless indicated otherwise, the sites and routes were identified by both firms.

It is important to stress that the situation could change at short notice due to the nature of protests in South Africa.

Danger areas and routes in South Africa during EFF’s national shutdown— 20 March 2023
ProvinceLikelihood of impactHigh-risk areas or gathering sitesHigh-risk routes
GautengFidelity: Definite
Thorburn: High risk
Union Buildings, PretoriaPresidential Residence, PretoriaEskom Megawatt Park, JohannesburgBurgers Park, Pretoria (Fidelity)Luthuli House, Johannesburg (Fidelity)Office of the Gauteng Premier (Fidelity)N1
N12 (Fidelity)
N14 (Fidelity)
N17 (Fidelity)
North WestFidelity: Likely
Thorburn: High risk, especially Rustenburg and Marikana
Rustenburg Municipal Office (Fidelity)Montshioa Stadium, Mahikeng (Fidelity)North West Provincial Leglstirature, Mahikeng (Fidelity)N4
N12 (Fidelity)
N14 (Fidelity)
N18 (Fidelity)
Free StateFidelity: Likely
Thorburn: High risk
Office of the Premier of the Free State,  Bloemfontein (Fidelity)Batho Community Hall, Bloemfontein (Fidelity)Old Parliament Building, Phutaditjhaba (Fidelity)Phutaditjhaba Freedom Square (Fidelity)N1
N6 (Fidelity)
N8 (Fidelity)
LimpopoFidelity: Likely
Thorburn: High risk
Eskom Distribution, Polokwane (Fidelity)Office of the Premier of Limpopo, Polokwane (Fidelity)N1
KwaZulu-NatalFidelity: Definite
Thorburn: High risk
Richards Bay port and coal terminalsDurban portDurban City Hall (Fidelity)King Dininzulu Park, GreyvilleN2
R32 (Fidelity)
R102 (Fidelity)
Routes to and from harbours (Thorburn)
Western CapeFidelity: Likely
Thorburn: High risk, especially Cape Town
Parliament of South Africa, Cape Town (Fidelity)Prasa Metrorail, Cape Town (Fidelity)N2
N7 (Fidelity)
Routes to and from harbours (Thorburn)
MpumalangaFidelity: Likely
Thorburn: High risk, especially Emalahleni and Mbombela
Eskom Park, Emalahleni (Fidelity)N4
R40 (Fidelity)
R538 (Fidelity)
Northern CapeFidelity: Not likely
Thorburn: Low risk
Office of the Premier of the Northern Cape, Kimberley (Fidelity)N8 (Fidelity)
N10 (Fidelity)
N14 (Fidelity)
N12 (Fidelity)
Eastern CapeFidelity: Likely
Thorburn: Medium risk
Victoria Grounds, King Williams Town (Fidelity)N2
N6 (Fidelity)
M4 (Fidelity)
Routes to and from harbours (Thorburn)