The area of Umzimkhulu in southern KwaZulu-Natal is among some of the areas in the province where a high number of police officers have been deployed to monitor this year’s national election. The area is notorious for political killings and violent public protests.
In 2017, at least five ANC councillors were assassinated in this area including former ANC Youth League Secretary General, Sindiso Magaqa.
KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Jay Naicker, says since the area also has the highest number of polling stations, additional officers will be on standby for emergencies.
“A lot of our police officers from the eThekwini task team will be deployed in that area because of the vast number of polling stations there. The polling stations have been categorised and we will be deploying officers accordingly. We also have a lot police officers on standby to react to any incidents that can occur. Police in the elections are over and above so policing day to day will not end affected. We have a lot of standby in the areas should something happen we will be able to respond quickly.”
The hotspots that the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has identified in the North West have increased from 79 to 83. The commission says Kraaipan village in the Ratlou Local Municipality is among the newly established hotspots.
Police Minister Bheki Cele has identified the North West and KwaZulu-Natal as the leading the high-risk areas regarding voting. However, IEC provincial head, Tumelontle Thiba, is optimistic that the elections will run smoothly.
“There is some understanding that we will be accessing most of seventy-nine places that we have identified. However, this week alone there were about four new places, Kraaipan being one of them and there are two places in Kagisano Molopo area where there were potential threats of service delivery protests,” says Thiba.
Cele has called on parties, candidates and the public to help ensure a free and fair election. Cele met with police in Durban to officially deploy members to monitor hotspots in KwaZulu-Natal. He said what is at stake is more than observing the Electoral Act, but the future of 57-million South Africans for the next 5 years.
The Justice, Crime and Security Cluster ministers say they are ready to ensure that a safe and secure environment prevails during next week’s elections. This as incidents of intolerance are reported in the country.