Soldiers will support police to maintain law and order in election run-up

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The SA National Defence Force (SANDF), as with previous Operation Prosper deployments, will again support the SA Police Service (SAPS) in the lead-up to and on 29 May – Election Day 2024.

This was confirmed at the weekend by SAPS Deputy National Commissioner Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili, National Joint Operational and Structure (NATJOINTS) chair.

She told a pre-election state of readiness briefing in Pretoria the SANDF [in all probability in the form of SA Army infantry soldiers supported by SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) medics and logistics personnel] law enforcement would be the responsibility of police with specialised police units backing them and soldiers in support.

This has been the modus operandi for military/police co-operation as per Operation Prosper since 2019 when infantry elements provided perimeter cover for police attempting to curb gang violence and warfare on the Cape Flats. Since then soldiers have supported police and other government departments and entities such as Eskom to rein in illegal mining, ensure compliance with COVID-19 regulations and help keep the peace during the July 2021 unrest in the Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

On election preparations Mosikili said the first phase – securing voter registration, policing gatherings and demonstrations, stabilising “hotspot areas” and “crime prevention around election matters” – was concluded satisfactorily.

Phase two from 27 May up to the announcement of results will see static deployments at voting stations, escorting of voter material and IEC staff, securing of election warehouses, transportation of voting material and the enforcement of the Electoral Act. On Election Day police will, among others, maintain law and order, provide escorts to polling stations as well as assist presiding officers to stop “political activity” in polling station grounds and remove people behaving inappropriately and undesirably.