Emigration and guns — What South Africans searched for after the unrest

Google searches for guns and emigration spiked in July following the violent protests and looting in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

The civil unrest started around 9 July in KwaZulu-Natal following the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. The riots and looting spread to Gauteng on 11 July.

During the unrest, thousands of businesses, shopping malls, and warehouses in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng were looted and damaged.

More than 200 people lost their lives, and over 2,500 criminals were arrested for partaking in the looting and public violence.

What shocked South Africans was the lack of police and military protection during the riots. Citizens and businesses were left to fend for themselves.

The government’s incompetence was on full display during the unrest. The police, military, and intelligence community were helpless against the criminal crowds.

Unsurprisingly, a gun-buying craze followed the civil unrest as people realised it is up to them to defend their properties and businesses.

“People are doing what they need to do to defend themselves, their community, and their democracy,” said Gun Owners of South Africa chairperson Paul Oxley.

Others, who are not keen to live in a country where the rule of law is at risk, looked for a way out and investigated emigration options.

The number of people looking to leave South Africa was already at very high levels, but the unrest and saw searches for emigration reach a 12-month high.

Most of the searches came from KwaZulu-Natal. There was also great interest from people in the North West province, the Western Cape, and Gauteng.

The increased interest in emigration is bad news for South Africa which has already lost valuable skills and thousands of high-net-worth individuals over the last few years.

The charts below show the increase in Google searches for guns and emigration after the unrest hit South Africa.


Google search trend for “Guns”


Google search trend for “Emigration”


Now read: Tremendous damage caused by looting shown in one table

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Emigration and guns — What South Africans searched for after the unrest