What do protestors say during South African ‘service delivery’ protests? Burning tires and violent actions make the news, but protesters’ perspectives are seldom heard in the media. After the crowd has dispersed, what happens to the protesters and their demands? Unlike in other countries, where social media can be used to mobilise and bring issues to the attention of a wider public, in South Africa, social media are expensive and inaccessible to many. Police records describe the protests as ‘crowd control incidents’, they note whether the crowd was peaceful and lump a wide range of issues, grievances and campaigns together, categorising them as ‘Dissatisfied with service delivery’.

This visualisation project uses police data to represent the number of service delivery protest incidents in South Africa, during 2009-2012. This visualisation shows how many protests are recorded in the police crowd control data for the period 01/01/2009-30/11/2012, The heat-map shows which areas have experienced more protests than others. The project is work in progress by Marion Walton and UCT’s Interactive Media class. The class is taking their first steps in data journalism, and are learning about JSON data and the Google Maps API. We are currently cleaning the data and exploring visual techniques to show the frequency of protests and the nature and distribution of media coverage.