Concerns over attacks on political party members ahead of 2024 polls

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With only six days before South Africans head to the polls to cast their votes, attacks on members of political parties during electioneering have become widespread in some parts of the country.

In Tshwane, Democratic Alliance (DA) members were allegedly attacked by a group of unknown people in Atteridgeville this week whilst putting up election campaign posters.

Police minister Bheki Cele has condemned acts of violence by members of political parties ahead of the elections. He says that political parties should come together and work with the police to ensure that this year’s election runs smoothly.

Cele says this year’s elections have stabilised compared to previous years. “As we observe the space going forward, we have found some little bit of stabilisation than other elections. I hope prosecutors themselves will take the matter of breaking the law very seriously but we also speaking with political parties themselves and they are coming together in the monitoring of the elections at its national, provincial, and even regional areas where they come together to work. We are also urging them that they must make the work of police very easy.”

Democratic Alliance (DA) member Isaac Mabaso says a group of 10 people attacked him and his colleague, Daniel Mokgobu while putting up posters resulting in him falling from a step ladder and injuring his leg.

A case has been opened at the Atteridgeville police station. “They fought with us while we were busy with my colleague Daniel posting the DA posters; then they threw the stones and the bottles on top of my body. I was trying to protect myself with one hand and I was holding the step ladder with my other hand. On my left leg, I get injured from the bottles. We opened a case yesterday then they said this case is being investigated.”

‘Political tolerance’

Meanwhile, Political Analyst Professor Bheki Mngomezulu has urged political leaders to educate their followers in order to curb the culture of political tolerance.

Mngomezulu says political leaders have the obligation to educate their supporters. “This is very critical especially because leaders of political parties have signed a pledge with the IEC – Whereby they confirmed that they going to converse in a free and fair manner and allow other political parties to do the same. It doesn’t make sense therefore if you find that members of a particular political party are becoming intolerant of members of another political party because they also have a right to converse – so if we are able to contain the situation we’ll be able to deliver an election that is free and fair and then of course the results will be credible.”

Meanwhile, Cele says law enforcement agencies will protect the upcoming elections at all costs.