Minister vows to protect voters who fear inked thumbs are a safety risk

2014-05-07 14:53

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Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has assured residents of Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape that they will still be kept safe once elections are over.

Residents in the Eastern Cape town today told the minister they were afraid that once police and soldiers deployed there had left, the marks on their thumbs would be used to identify those who voted and they would be intimidated or even harmed.

Some residents had threatened to boycott the polls amid ongoing service-delivery complaints.

But Mapisa-Nqakula moved quickly to quell their fears.

“Our deployment has taken all things into consideration. We have not deployed just because there is an election. The post-election period is a period we are concerned about therefore we will make sure that after these elections, there will be proper deployment and protection of citizens,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

She visited the Ekuzoleni voting station, a part of which was torched on Sunday night.

The minister said special courts would be set up to make sure that those charged with crimes relating to violence during elections were dealt with quickly.

“We are not going to tolerate any criminal elements because we want this election to be smooth, free and fair and won’t take kindly to people who want to disturb that process.”

She said those who were responsible for torching the school’s library would be hunted down, arrested, charged and prosecuted to send a strong message.

The minister was generally happy that things were “quiet” in Sterkspruit and Molteno, about a two-and-a-half-hour drive away. There have also been violent service-delivery protests in Molteno.

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