Warning: ‘keep the peace’

2019-05-08 15:08
Election staff Sane Xulu and Esihle Ngzoweni put up signage outside a voting station in Chase Valley on Tuesday. South Africans head to the polls today 25 years after the country's first first democratic elections to cast their votes.

Election staff Sane Xulu and Esihle Ngzoweni put up signage outside a voting station in Chase Valley on Tuesday. South Africans head to the polls today 25 years after the country's first first democratic elections to cast their votes. (Ian Carbutt)

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With millions of KZN citizens set to flock to various voting stations across the province to cast their votes in Wednesday’s crucial elections, authorities have issued a stern warning to protesters planning to disrupt the polls.

Briefing the media in Durban on Tuesday, community safety MEC Mxolisi Kaunda said disgruntled community members intending to blockade voting stations as part of their protest will be severely dealt with.

“The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS) confirms that it will decisively deal with any illegal activities that seek to undermine the citizens’ right to vote in any part of KwaZulu-Natal. We ask everyone in the province to respect the rights of others and the Constitution — no one is above the law and the Constitution,” Kaunda said.

This after the cluster’s security analysis in the province had indicated that certain individuals, ranging from disgruntled emplo-yees to community members unhappy with service delivery, were planning to disrupt Wednesday’s voting.

On Monday and Tuesday law enforcement agencies had their hands full, removing protestors who had blocked the M19 highway near Reservoir Hills in Durban and also attending to intimidation complaints lodged by Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials during the special voting that had been taking place in the past two days.

In kwaMaphumulo, northern KZN, unknown people who demanded that voting should come to a halt in the area sent IEC officials death threats.

In eThekwini, where municipal employees are protesting over salaries, public infrastructure including a water reservoir was sabotaged, and demonstrators have threatened to cause more havoc on Wednesday. Kaunda said more than 70 000 security personnel had been deployed to KZN to quell any disturbances interfering with voting.

“The intelligence structures have also been activated and will be operating throughout the province for early warning systems to assist government in making proactive interventions.

“Tough measures have also been developed to monitor truck blockades, mainly on the highways, including the N2 and the N3 — we view the ongoing threats by truck drivers to disrupt elections in a serious light,” he said.

In previous elections in the province, voting in areas such as Wembezi in the Midlands, kwaMashu hostel in Durban and Lindelani Township in kwaDukuza — where a party agent was murdered outside a voting station in 2016 — had been accompanied by incidents of violence and intimidation.

However, Kaunda said most of the province’s traditional hotspots were no longer considered as such after the political tensions had calmed in recent years.

“The only area where we still have problems is Lindelani,” he said.

The province’s 4 884 stations open at 7 am and close at 9 pm.

Kaunda also assured the over five million KZN residents who have registered for Wednesday’s elections that they will be safe at the voting stations.

“Once again, from the security point of view, we are ready to secure all the voters and the general population of this province,” he said.

IEC provincial chief electoral officer, Mawethu Mosery, said the electoral body was satisfied with the security measures put in place by law enforcement agencies. “We are fairly confident that we will have smooth elections in the province,” he said.

There had been fears that thousands of KZN residents living in coastal areas affected by the recent floods might not be able to vote after the floods had damaged some of the voting stations and roads leading to the facilities.

However, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said most of the damage has already been repaired, with all voting stations now open for today’s elections.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  elections 2019

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