KZN on high security

2019-05-03 12:30
The deputy CEO of the Independent Electoral Commission, Masego Sheburi, at the national results centre in Pretoria. He said the IEC is ready for next week’s elections and the release of results. PHOTO: Isabel Venter

The deputy CEO of the Independent Electoral Commission, Masego Sheburi, at the national results centre in Pretoria. He said the IEC is ready for next week’s elections and the release of results. PHOTO: Isabel Venter

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With threats to disrupt Wednesday’s general elections increasing in recent weeks, police have increased security in KZN, with close to 30 000 officers deployed to secure polling stations in the province.

Briefing representatives of political parties in Durban on Thursday, KZN police commissioner Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwananzi said a large contingent of police had been deployed.

The team, Mkhwananzi said, will be reinforced by members of the South African National Defence Force, who will maintain a strong presence in areas such as eThekwini where there have been protests in recent days.

“There will also be supported by 650 metro police from Durban,” he said.

About 5,3 million voters are expected to converge at 6 500 voting centres across the province to cast their votes on Wednesday.

While areas such as the notorious Kwamashu B hostel in Durban, Linde­lani township on the North Coast and Wembesi in the Midlands were regarded as the province’s election hotspots, Mkhwananzi said police will regard any form of protest as a threat to the polls.

“We have already identified some of these high-risk areas in the province and we are closely monitoring them,” he said.

eThekwini municipal workers who are currently locked in a salary dispute with their employer, have been disrupting services around the city in recent days. Yesterday, the protesting workers caused a massive traffic jam that also gridlocked traffic on the N2 and N3 highways. Last month four people died and more than a 100 were displaced in xenophobic attacks in Durban.

Speaking at the same event, KZN chief electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said unlike in previous elections where the authorities only focused on service delivery and labour-related protest, any acts regarded as incitement to violence would be acted on. “We will have 52 observers and one aspect they will be paying attention to is any form of talk that has the potential to create xenophobic tendencies,” he said.

Violent incidents in recent months have led Police Minister Bheki Cele to classify KZN, along with North West province, as high risk areas for disruptions during the polls.

Cele said there were areas still experiencing political violence in KZN, including KwaDukuza in Ilembe, Ndwedwe and Bhekuzulu, Vryheid.

Cele said hostels, where there was interference during the registration process and during campaigning, were specifically high-risk.

He said there already has been a pre-deployment of police to ensure “pre-stabilisation” in hotspot areas.

State security minister Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba said they were targeting the North West and KZN because of threat assessments which were informed by daily intelligence work.

Mosery said while the elections team will continue monitoring the security situation in KZN, campaigning had been running smoothly. “The campaigns of political parties had been free and not interfered with,” he said.

People who lost their ID books among their possessions in the coastal floods last month are at risk of not being able to vote. Police said yesterday they will be supporting Home Affairs staff in issuing temporary IDs to these people.

Home Affairs offices are staying open late (4 pm to 7 pm from May 6 and 7, and from 7 am to 9 pm on voting day) so that some of the more than 350 000 people who have not collected their IDs in time might be able to get them and vote. 

Read more on:    elections 2019

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