Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa at the Security Services’ State of Readiness for the Local Government Elections Media Briefing Tshwane SAPS Training Academy, Gauteng


Remarks by the Minister of Police, E.N. Mthethwa at the Security Services’ State of Readiness for the Local Government Elections Media Briefing

Tshwane SAPS Training Academy, Gauteng
09 May 2011

Fellow Ministers from the JCPS Cluster present;

National Police Commissioner of SAPS, General Bheki Cele;

Chief Electoral Officer of IEC, Advocate Pansy Tlakula;

Directors General from the NATJOINTS present;

Members of the Media;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

We welcome and thank you for attending this media briefing.  We are here this morning to share with the nation, government’s security preparations for the upcoming Local Government Elections.

We need to upfront highlight that our security planning and preparations began in earnest over the past months, but are being intensified in the lead up to the important voting day of 18 May 2011.

As the nation would recall, almost a month prior to the commencement of the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, we launched our SAPS Good Ambassador Campaign.  At the time, we made a clarion call to all men and women in blue to go beyond their normal call of duty.  We further extended this positive attitude to all the citizens of the country.  The security forces, together with several other key government departments and role-players, proudly ensured that the 2010 FIFA World Cup™ unfolded in a safe and secure environment. 

Under the same momentum and approach, we are now calling upon members of the SAPS, supported by other role-players including SANDF, Justice, Metro Police, Correctional Services, State Security, Home Affairs, IEC to once again rise to the occasion.

The security arrangements for the 2011 Local Government Elections will be managed through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS).  The NATJOINTS works very closely with the IEC; in fact since 27 April 1994; we have jointly successfully secured every democratic General and Local Government Election in South Africa.

In terms of safety and security for this important occasion, SAPS is the lead department and the NATJOINTS is chaired by Lieutenant General Elias Mawela of SAPS who is responsible for the Operational Response Services of the police.

The Chairperson of the NATJOINTS is ably assisted by Deputy Directors General from various other government departments, including the SANDF, the State Security Agency, the Departments of International Relations and Cooperation, Home Affairs, Health, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and various State Intelligence Agencies. 

The two voter registration weekends for the Local Government Elections took place in a free and fair atmosphere and we are confident that the elections on 18 May 2011, will take place in a safe and secure national environment.

Approximately 75 000 police officers will be deployed, with strong support from the SANDF, the intelligence community and various traffic departments.  Amongst the duties, they will safeguard all polling stations, transportation of ballot boxes, counting process and perform general crime-prevention duties. 

We also need to take this opportunity to emphasize that normal policing will also continue unabated in all communities, whether one looks at police visibility or operations at various key crime hot spots.  After all, we shall not compromise the safety of the nation by purely focusing all our attention to the election operations.

The NATJOINTS structure will be replicated in all nine provinces and a fully integrated approach will be followed nationwide to secure all South Africans’ constitutional right to vote in a peaceful environment conducive to free and fair elections.  This model was successfully followed during previous elections, as well as during the hugely successful 2010 FIFA World Cup™.
50 000 police officials will be deployed at the 21 868 polling stations throughout the country.  The intelligence structures have done a risk analysis at each and every polling station and we will deploy between two and four police officials at each polling stations according to the risk analysis.  We will intensify our operations in some of the identified hotspot provinces, namely KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West.
25 000 police officials will be deployed for general crime- prevention duties.  Furthermore, reservists will be called up to bolster our forces.  Reaction groups of highly skilled and trained police officials will be on standby to react to any contingency, but there is no indication at this stage of any major threat against the elections.

The duties of the police, assisted by the SANDF and other departments, are not restricted to static protection at the polling stations.  We will also be involved in safeguarding ballot papers during transportation, both before and after the community have cast their votes. 

We will also assist in securing the counting process.  During the two voter registration weekends we even went so far as to assist the IEC in getting voters across flooded rivers to register at polling stations.

A group of police officials in each province, and at national level, have undergone training in the electoral process so that they can step in and act as electoral officials at polling stations should the need arise.  The group at Head Office will be on standby to travel to any polling station in the country to assist. 

Thousands of police officials in all provinces have also been trained in election-related duties.  The members of the security forces who are deployed for the elections on 18 May 2011 may cast a special vote on 16 May 2011. 

As we mentioned earlier, the police operations began last month with what we dubbed “Operation Paseka” which was launched specifically during the Easter blitz period aimed at fighting crime in the lead up to the important occasion of 18 May 2011.

We are pleased with the success of Operation Paseka and want to commend all members of the SAPS who heeded our call.  From 01 April to 30 April 2011, the following (among others) were achieved nationally:

Cordon and search operations                3 361

Detection of drug outlets                         1 375

Farms visited                                            46 863

Illegal liquor outlets closed                     3 664

Number of banks visited                         62 874

No of shopping centres visited                58 520

Persons searched                                      954 479

Premises searched                                    54 138

Stop and search operations                      128 525

Vacant houses visited                              9 820

Vehicle control points (main roads)        27 555

Vehicle control points (rural roads)        9 735

Arrests                                                       85 095

Vehicles recovered                                   889

To succeed in this duty of crime-fighting, we as police members must be upright and moral.  We therefore have a responsibility to examine and audit our all-round performance.  We must respect human dignity at all material times.  We must ensure that our performance is beyond reproach for us to win the confidence of the people we serve.

In the lead up to elections, we are aware that political parties have signed a code of conduct with the IEC and we urge them to also transcend the contents of this commitment, to their members.  Included in this commitment, is a right to respect members of the SAPS when they carry out their mandate.  No provocation, insult or abuse of the members of the SAPS will be tolerated.

While people have constitutionally-entrenched rights to protest on any issue to express their grievances, such protests must be done within the framework of the legislation.  Police will not tolerate criminal acts under whatever guise.  We will therefore unapologetically deal with such criminal acts decisively, all within the Constitutional principles. 

Our success as government in the fight against crime is to a large extent, as a result of establishing strong partnerships with various stakeholders; business, communities, NGOs, civic organizations, etc. 

As the SAPS we have heightened our vigilance on criminals, we are in full swing and there is nothing that can stop us, neither during this election period nor post the elections.  So in essence those who fail to heed this call, they shall face the full wrath of the law.

We are confident that the Local Government Elections will be safe and secure.  Our confidence stems from an assurance that many law-abiding citizens are with us as we endeavour to ensure we deal a blow to criminals and their evil intentions.  As it has been proven before, any struggle that involves the people of our land has been victorious in the end.

Together, We Can Ensure Safe and Secure Local Government Elections.

I thank you.