Elections: Remembering personal safety habits when you go to make your mark

A security company issues a few safety tips before you head to the polls and during the voting process.

South Africans will visit voting stations across the country to take part in the National and Provincial Election.
Special votes were cast on May 27 and 28 with the main voting day scheduled for today (May 29).

“When you make your way to your local voting station, please remember those important basic safety measures that you follow on any other given day. Large numbers of people will be out and about and this means that being aware of your surroundings is as important as ever,” said Charnel Hattingh, group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity Services Group.

She offered tips and advice for Election Day:

• Before leaving, make sure your house is properly locked and secured. Don’t leave any gap or chance for an opportunistic criminal to gain access. This includes closing any windows that lead onto the street; make sure they are closed so that no one can quickly grab valuable items that are close at hand.

• Leave the valuables at home. You don’t need to take flashy jewellery or other expensive items with you but don’t forget your ID documents and perhaps a pen.

• There is safety in numbers. If you have a neighbour who is also on their way to vote, you can consider asking if they want to walk or drive with you to the voting station. It’s a good way of getting to know your neighbours and it provides an extra level of security. Keep in mind that you might have an elderly neighbour who chose not to use one of the special voting days, and they might appreciate your offering to accompany them to go make their mark.

• When you get to the voting station, park your car in a safe place and lock all doors before you leave your vehicle. Don’t think that just because you will only be inside the voting station for a few moments it is OK to leave the doors unlocked.

• On your way back, make sure there is no one following you. If you see any unfamiliar vehicles following you as you get to your gate, consider taking another trip around the block first. If the vehicle keeps following you, call your armed response company or make your way to the closest police station.

“The police will have a heightened presence across the country on the day, especially at voting stations. It is a good idea to still be alert to any suspicious activity and to ask for help if you for example see unknown people loitering in the vicinity. Ask your security company if they have a mobile panic alarm that you can carry with you or a similar app that can be downloaded on your phone,” said Hattingh.

“It all starts with taking ownership of your safety and being alert to what happens around you at all times. Opportunistic criminals are always on the lookout for ‘soft targets’ in places where large numbers of people gather. You can be a lot safer by simply paying attention to what happens around you on Election Day.”

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