Thapelo Lekabe
Digital Journalist
3 minute read
25 Oct 2021
2:10 pm

Government ‘confident’ all security measures in place to ensure free, fair elections

Thapelo Lekabe

The JCPS cluster said according to their security threat assessment, the country is relatively stable to hold the 1 November polls.

Picture: Twitter/@IECSouthAfrica

With a week left until South Africans vote in this year’s local government elections, government says it is confident that all safety and security measures are in place to ensure free and fair elections come 1 November.

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster ministers on Monday briefed the media in Tshwane on the state of readiness for the municipal elections.

The cluster includes the departments of police, home affairs, justice and correctional services, and defence and military veterans.

Hotspot provinces

Police Minister Bheki Cele said they had identified several hotspots in four provinces where voters might be prevented from casting their ballots. These areas are in KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Gauteng.

Cele said they had classified the hotspots into medium-, low- and high-risk areas to ensure that police resources are deployed to voting stations and all nine of the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) results operation centres.

“It doesn’t mean that other provinces are not necessarily peaceful. There are pockets of the problems here and there in North West, Free State, Mpumalanga and Limpopo,” Cele said.

SANDF and police reserves on standby

Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the JCPS cluster had been working hard to ensure that the polls are without any incidents of violence and that voters are not prevented from exercising their constitutional right to vote.

Modise said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) would also be on standby to provide support to police and the IEC.

“All relevant security aligned departments within the three spheres of government have worked tirelessly and in a continuous and coordinated manner to ensure that we deliver successful local government elections.

“As a cluster, we want to assure the public that all areas will be accessible to all citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Modise said.

The minister said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJOINTS) had a plan to secure the elections. The plan is managed by the national, provincial, district and local NatJOINTS, which deals with all security and law-enforcement operations throughout the country.

“This plan is to ensure that there is sufficient police visibility in and around voting stations around the country to prevent crime and/or intimidation of voters and any role player,” she said.

Modise said the NatJOINTS would continue to meet weekly to analyse the safety and security situation in the country ahead of the elections and whether to deploy more law enforcement agencies to manage the elections.

“Over and above the physical analysis and the deployment of Saps [SA Police Service] officers at the voting districts, reserve forces from the police will be on standby to provide additional assistance should the need arise and around the identified hotspots.”

SA is relatively stable to hold elections

Modise said according to their security threat assessment, the country is relatively stable to hold the 1 November polls, which begins with special votes from 30 to 31 October.

The security threat assessment was done by the intelligence coordinating committee.

“They have assured us that the country is relatively stable and that it is conducive to free and fair elections,” Modise said.

The minister said all forms of criminality would not be tolerated before, during and after the elections.

“We would like to remind South Africans that the incitement of violence is also a criminal offense. Interfering with the work of the IEC or the work of IEC officers is also a transgression that is punishable by law.”

Electoral Courts will also be available in all voting districts to deal with disputes and complaints related to the infringement of the IEC’s electoral code of conduct and claims of misconduct involving IEC staff.

Political killings

Modise said an interministerial committee had established a task team that would investigate all political killings dating back to May 2018.

“The mandate of this task team is to ensure that the perpetrators of politically related crimes are brought to book,” she said.

The JCPS cluster also urged all political party leaders not to make inflammatory statements with the potential to incite violence in their communities.

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