Extra cops for flashpoints

2009-04-17 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL has the potential for political violence during the election, prompting national security agencies to descend on the province in a bid to ensure safe and peaceful elections.

Among the nine provinces, KZN has had the highest number of incidents of violence in the past six weeks, Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa told journalists at a media briefing yesterday.

Mthethwa said the Justice Crime Prevention Security (JCPS) cluster has been on a fact-finding mission across the country to establish the state of readiness of each province and KZN was found to be of great concern.

Present at the news briefing in Nongoma were Mthethwa and his deputy, Susan Shabangu, Intelligence Services Minister Siyabonga Cwele, deputy Justice Minister Johnny de Lange, Defence Minister Charles Nqakula and his deputy, Fezile Bhengu.

De Lange said KZN has had 162 incidents of violence. “Eleven of those are serious cases, out of them four being murders, four attempted murders, one robbery, one arson and one pointing of a firearm.”

KZN is followed by the Northern Cape which has 62 cases. The Eastern Cape has the fewest incidents at 10.

Mthethwa said several areas have been identified as violence flashpoints in KZN. He said Nongoma, Estcourt, Ntabamhlophe, Ulundi, kwaDukuza, Greytown, Msinga and hostels are potentials for political violence.

The JCPS has deployed special units in KZN to step up security for the election period.

“In the past few weeks we have managed to deploy the national intervention unit, intelligence units and the SANDF to unmask the perpetrators. The units have arrested 60 suspects on election-related matters with one unfortunate death in Nongoma. Overall, in the entire province nine people have died. Out of the nine deaths the police have made six breakthroughs.

“The deployed law enforcement units have collectively managed to recover 22 illegal firearms, including three AK47s, one R5, two 303 rifles, a shotgun, 12 9 mm pistols, two revolvers and one homemade gun.

“We have also recovered 100 rounds of ammunition, 16 magazines and 25 kilograms of dagga.”

The units will remain in the province until the election activities are over.

Cwele said community members in Nongoma have expressed gratitude for the deployment. “Since the deployment Nongoma has remained relatively peaceful and most people are happy about it,” he said.

Nqakula said the number of officers deployed in the province will be determined by the situation. “Operational situations determines deployment. All we can say is that we have adequate deployment at this time.”

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