17 000 police deployed in KZN for elections

2014-04-29 17:10

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KwaZulu-Natal will see 17 000 police officers deployed across the province during the May 7 elections to ensure they take place peacefully, community safety MEC Willies Mchunu has said.

He was speaking today at a meeting of the province’s multiparty political intervention committee held at the troubled KwaMashu hostels in Durban.

Mchunu said his department would deploy 175 election monitors and he expected 500 to be deployed by the provincial legislature.

About 50 international observers were also expected to be present in the province during the elections.

Mchunu said particular attention would be paid to KwaMashu and the hostel areas, which had been plagued by political violence during the past three years.

“All voting stations in KwaMashu hostel will be manned by not less than six police [officers] inside the polling station.

“We wish to warn all parties that any supporters found to have interfered with the electoral process, it will risk having votes cast in its favour forfeited or be suspended from that voters’ roll,” said Mchunu.

The meeting was billed as an event where political leaders, including Mchunu, and the Independent Electoral Commission would meet local residents in a bid to promote political tolerance.

Initially the Bhekuzulu Hall was filled only with political leaders and media, but as the meeting progressed it filled to capacity.

The KwaMashu hostels, located in A-section of KwaMashu, have seen a string of politically related killings in the past three years.

Located in Ward 39, members of the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), and the National Freedom Party have lost their lives in a bitter struggle for control of the ward.

Numerous people have been injured and a journalist’s car was torched despite an almost continual police presence in the ward.

A number of police raids have seen numerous arms caches being seized during the past three years.

The ward is the only one the IFP controls in the eThekwini metro municipality.

Mchunu said security measures, such as stopping vehicles and search and seizure operations, would be undertaken in KwaMashu, and Wembezi in Estcourt.

Wembezi is another area that has seen political violence over the past few years.

Mchunu urged parties to focus their attention on mobilising people to vote instead of planning strategies to kill supporters of rival political parties.

An estimated 5.1 million people are registered to vote in the province.

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