KZN deploys 17 000 cops for elections

SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi with MEC for Transport, Community Safety, and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka. | SUPPLIED

SAPS Provincial Commissioner, Lieutenant-General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi with MEC for Transport, Community Safety, and Liaison, Sipho Hlomuka. | SUPPLIED

Published May 21, 2024


Durban — In a bid to deliver safe and fair elections, more than 17 000 police officers will be deployed to voting stations across KwaZulu-Natal for the May 29 elections.

The Justice Crime, Prevention and Security Cluster’s grand plan to quell violence or political intolerance during the coming elections was revealed on Monday by Sipho Hlomuka, the Transport, Community Safety and Liaison MEC.

More than 5 million people are expected to head to the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s 4 974 voting stations in KZN. Hlomuka said they were leaving nothing to chance and all voting stations would be closely monitored.

“Priority will be given to high-risk voting stations,” he said.

Among these was Nongoma, in northern KZN, which was expected to be a scene of a fierce political contest between the ANC, the IFP and the NFP.

Hlomuka said: “This is one area that has of late been experiencing the killing of councillors and it is one of the declared hot spot areas.

“Our conclusion is that KwaNongoma and other parts of Zululand still want to categorise themselves as no-go zones and we must resist any attempts that will take us back.”

More than 1 008 social crime-prevention volunteers from the Department of Community Safety and Liaison would also be roped in.

“We will also place roving teams on high alert to respond to emergency cases and set up special courts to deal with cases speedily,” he said.

“People must expect high police visibility and there will be random operations, which will include stop and searches.

“There are other (hot spot) areas, including hostels in eThekwini. We urge the people to co-operate and work with the police.”

Despite the scramble for votes heating up ahead of the polls, Hlomuka said political parties had shown a high level of maturity and discipline.

“From the voter registration weekends, to launching of party manifestos and the intensifying of campaigns, we have witnessed high levels of political tolerance.”

Despite three major political parties, the ANC, EFF and IFP, launching their manifestos at Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, Hlomuka said no incidents of violence had been reported.

“Our analysis is that the province is stable. The fact that three major political parties had their manifesto launches here in KZN tells you that the province will be the hive of political activities,” Hlomuka said.

“We have also had some sporadic incidents of violent public protests and we caution our people not to deprive others of their constitutional rights to vote by barricading roads and destroying properties,” he added.

Unlike in previous elections, Hlomuka warned that no political gatherings would be allowed at voting stations. He praised police for arresting more than 10 000 suspects last month.

During those arrests, 271 illegal firearms were recovered and 2 389 rounds of ammunition.

“We also welcome additional deployments for the elections and we acknowledge that the additional 1 963 a year of new police trainees is assisting in improving the capacity of the police,” Hlomuka said.

SAPS provincial commissioner Lieutenant-General Mkhwanazi said KwaZulu-Natal was expected to be the centre of attention in these elections.

“We will also be engaging with you (media) throughout the election period to ensure that once again the people of our province are able to exercise their democratic rights freely,” he said.

“This work includes all agencies, and it entails purifying and processing the intelligence information obtained on the ground.”

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