When South Africans vote for ward and district councillors on Monday (1 November) it will be in an environment “conducive to free and fair elections” Cabinet’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster maintains.
The cluster, with the ministers of defence and military veterans (Thandi Modise), police (Bheki Cele) and home affairs (Aaron Motsoaledi) at the podium, yesterday (Monday, 25 October) gave an overview of the state of readiness for the local government elections (LGEs).
Soldiers will be deployed but not at polling stations and areas cited by Cele as high risk. They will, Modise said, “under the ambit of NatJoints (National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure) be on standby to provide support” to the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) and the SA Police Service (SAPS). Soldiers will also, the defence minister said, protect national key points.
A post briefing statement has it that: “The Intelligence Co-ordinating Committee (ICC) conducted a security threat assessment and assured the situation in the country is relatively stable. The threat assessment resulted in categorisation of voting stations into high, medium and low risk and police will deploy accordingly”.
It goes on: “As the security cluster, we want to assure the country law enforcement agencies will be on hand at every voting station to ensure the democratic process is not disturbed in any way and elections are conducted in a free, fair and safe environment”.
Police, soldiers and “other law enforcement agencies” will be deployed as “determined and guided by structured threat analysis and crime patterns”. In addition to police officers, police reserves will be on standby if needed in and around identified hotspots. Cele said Eastern and Western Cape along with Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal are “high risk”.
Bearing out his classification are reports of truck violence on the N3 in the Harrismith area and the N10 near Middelburg in Eastern Cape, a major road access route to Gqeberha port in the Nelson Mandela Metro this week.