Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
20 Oct 2021
1:41 pm

Soldiers could be deployed to assist police on voting day, says Bheki Cele

Citizen Reporter

The police minister says SANDF members could be deployed on 1 November but only if President Cyril Ramaphosa approves.

Members of the SANDF can be seen in Pretoria during a patrol and roadblock on 7 April 2020. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Police Minister Bheki Cele has revealed that the members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) could be deployed on voting day in light of the recent political killings.

This followed the murder of a Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) ward councillor candidate who was gunned down in the KwaCaluza area outside Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on Sunday.

Cele on Wednesday visited the family of EFF’s Msunduzi ward 20 candidate, Thulani Shangase, who was killed after returning from an campaign meeting ahead of the local government elections.

The minister’s visit follows growing concern over political killings in KZN as the country edges closer to the local government elections, which will take place on 1 November.

Voting day

Speaking to the media, Cele said police were investigating the motive behind Shangase’s killing.

“Besides the death of Thulani here, other two people have died around in this area. Police are still working on all those matters. We are going to look around all issues that might have led to murder of Thulani,” he said.

On how the ministry was going to tackle voting day, Cele said members of the South African Police Service (Saps) would be present at voting stations to ensure the safety of citizens, especially at hotspot areas.

“Fortunately, yesterday [Tuesday] we had a meeting with the IEC [Independent Electoral Commission]. What we know for now is there will be almost 23,000 voting stations in the country.

ALSO READ: How KZN became the breeding ground for SA’s political assassins

“All of them have been profiled in a way that there are those among them which are low-, medium- and high-risk level. So the police are planning around that,” he said.

The minister also said SANDF soldiers could be deployed on voting day but only if President Cyril Ramaphosa approves.

“[I] have already written a letter to the minister of defence so that the president give us permission of working with the SANDF.

“But the SANDF will not go to the voting stations as it will deal with other installments like [monitoring] government infrastructure which will help to release the police to focus on the work around the elections,” Cele added.

Political killings

Several politically motivated killings have occurred in recent times, with Cele expected to receive a full report from the task team investigating these cases.

Last Friday, ANC ward councillor candidate Siyabonga Mkhize was killed during a door-to-door campaign in Cato Crest in Durban.

READ MORE: Elections 2021: Security cluster vows to protect voters after Inanda political killings

Mkhize, who was a candidate for ward 101 in eThekwini, was killed while he was with another person, who also died.

In separate incident that took place in September, three women – Ncami Shange, Beatrice Nzama and Philisiwe Jili – who attended an ANC political gathering were gunned down outside a primary school in Inanda.

Meanwhile, ANC councillor Tshepo Motaung was shot 20 times while on his way home in Mabopane, Tshwane.