What to do if you are caught up in civil unrest? It’s happening now and could well continue once the results of the South African municipal elections are known.
Finding yourself at the centre of a civil unrest situation in your car is not something many people think of. However, recent events in some parts of South Africa mean it is wise to be prepared should this happen to you.
The Automobile Association says the first, and most important, action is to avoid such areas.
RULE ONE: STAY AWAY FROM AREAS OF POTENTIAL TURMOIL
“If you are aware of unrest near to you,” the AA says, “monitor media and social media, listen to radio reports and traffic updates and, if you have it, use the live update on your GPS to steer clear.
“The best way not to become part of any unrest situation is to not be there in the first place.”
But, if you still find yourself in this situation, what should you do?
Captain Tsekiso Mofokeng, SAPS Gauteng Provincial spokesperson, advises drivers to be vigilant at all times and, if needs be, engage with the protesters to let them know you are no threat to them, merely trying to pass through.
“It’s important that anyone driving in an area that may be affected by unrest understands that the SAPS will most probably have blocked off a road to prevent entry. Listen to the police!
“Don’t put yourself in danger by disobeying – if you do get into such a situation check for possible escape routes or for a police presence that you can approach for assistance.”
HERE ARE SOME GOLDEN RULES…
Other tips, if caught…
- Stay in your car as long as possible2.Unbuckle your seat belt and those of any passengers to be prepared to get out of your car quickly
- Keep your car moving as far as you can while checking for escape routes
- Avoid hitting any protesters with your vehicle – the mob might turn on you
- Don’t taunt the protesters by shouting, gesticulating or hooting
- Remain as calm as possible to ensure you are aware of what is going on around you
- Seek assistance or safety from the police as quickly as you can. If you do not see the police, call them.
- Listen to police instructions
- If you are stuck and the situation seems to be turning leave your car and get out of the area on foot. Your life is more valuable than your car or your possessions
- Once you are personally safe (with or without your vehicle) call family or friends to let them know where you are and what is happening
- When you are safely away from the unrest situation, you may find that your car has sustained damage. If you have insurance you may be covered.
South African Special Risks Association Limited (Saria) is included in all comprehensive policies and covers you for “any accidental or intentional damage to your property caused by any person or group of persons taking part in a riot, strike, lock-out, public disorder or civil commotion or committing any act that has a political, social or economic aim, objective or cause or that is in protest against any state or government”.
This cover is, however, limited to events occurring only in South Africa.
For more information on Insurance Driven by the AA click here.
The AA added: “It is important to be aware, to be careful, and to be safe. If you’re in a situation beyond your control get out as quickly possible and get assistance if you need it.”