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Be safe on voting day

You can be much safer by simply paying attention to what happens around you on Election Day

South Africans will visit voting stations across the country this coming week to participate in the National and Provincial Election.

People will cast special votes on 27 and 28 May, with the main voting day scheduled for Wednesday, 29 May.

When you make your way to your local voting station, please remember basic but important safety measures.

“Large numbers of people will be out and about, and this means being aware of your surroundings is as important as ever,” says Charnel Hattingh, group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity Services Group

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

• Leave your 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, consider asking if they want to walk or drive to the voting station with you. It’s a good way of getting to know your neighbours and 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 well appreciate you offering to accompany them to go and make their mark.

• When you get to the voting station, park your car in a safe place and lock all doors before leaving your vehicle.

Don’t think it is okay to leave the doors unlocked just because you will only be inside the station for a few moments.

• On your way back, ensure that no one is following you.
If you see an unfamiliar vehicle 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 SAPS will have a heightened presence countrywide 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 see unknown people loitering in the vicinity, for example.

It all starts with taking ownership of your safety and being alert to what happens around you at all times.

Opportunistic criminals are always looking out for “soft targets” in places where large numbers of people gather.

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