SANDF working to ensure safe elections


The national defence force is, according to a Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) Cluster statement, ready for any eventuality with safety and security measures in place for free and fair elections when the country goes to the poll on Wednesday.

The JCPS statement with contact details for Siphiwe Dlamini, Department of Defence head of communications points out that the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) will work with all the JCPS cluster departments to ensure elections “happen in a safe and secure environment”.

Apart from the national defence force, the SA Police Service, Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the Demarcation Board, State security Agency (SSA) and departments of Constitutional Development and Home Affairs are also tasked with managing the election security plan.

“All relevant security-aligned departments in the three spheres of government are working tirelessly to ensure successful delivery of the sixth general election (since South African became in democracy in 1994),” the statement notes, adding “as a force multiplier around 3 504 reservists nationwide will be deployed”.

They are in all probability SAPS reservists who will join over 51 300 police officers deployed nationally on election duty. Police will enhance visibility and prevent criminal activity in and around voting stations. They will also “monitor all forms of protestation or ‘shutdowns’ to ensure no individual’s constitutional right to vote will be infringed”.

“Law enforcement agencies will also provide security services to the presiding and voting officers when they collect and deliver ballot papers/boxes to voting stations.”

On possible Election Day hotspots, the statement has it that intelligence driven operations have been identified and prioritised with the highest risk areas being KwaZulu-Natal and North West.

Without going into detail as to composition, the statement notes five teams will be maintained at national level to be deployed to any part of the country needing “urgent intervention to deal with high risk situations”.

If previous national and provincial elections are any indication, the teams will be police with soldiers as back-up to provide perimeter security. Delivery of the teams to specific points is in the hand of NATJOINTS, the national joint operations centre, which can access and use both SA Air Force (SAAF) and SAPS Air Wing assets.

The national defence force is also on standby in case of disaster and ready to assist and support as was recently demonstrated during flooding in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

South Africans will vote in the national and provincial elections at 22 924 voting stations across the country.

A Southern African Development Community (SADC) electoral observer mission in South Africa has been assured the country is free from so-called “no-go zones”. The assurance came from International Relations and Co-operation Deputy Minister Llewellyn Landers.

This follows reports of fear of attacks among some observer mission members.

“As the government and people of South Africa we are fully committed to peace, security and the development of our continent,” he is reported as saying.

The SADC mission is led by Zambian Foreign Affairs Minister Joseph Malanji.