Tshwane - The justice, crime prevention and security (JCPS) cluster of government departments on Monday applauded South African voters for their tolerance and patience during last week's general elections, which saw millions of people queue in different parts of the country, often in cold and wet weather, to cast their ballots.
"During these elections we witnessed South Africans displaying active citizenship, patriotism and allegiance to our Constitution. Many of the voters exercised tolerance and patience as they waited in long queues to exercise their democratic right to vote," Police minister Bheki Cele, flanked by defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and home affairs minister Siyabonga Cwele, told journalists in Pretoria.
"As a country we have displayed that our democracy is indeed vibrant and allows everyone irrespective of race, colour, gender or religion to make their voice heard through voting."
Cele said all 22 924 voting stations across South Africa were secured on the day of the elections with no major incidents reported, creating conditions for free and fair elections conducted in a safe and secure environment.
"Intelligence conducted threat assessments, and identified problematic areas on an ongoing basis. Both these aspects impacted on the risk rating of voting stations that was also reviewed on an ongoing basis. Although the problematic areas were fluid, depending on the circumstances at any given time, they remained located in specific clusters," he said.
"Our success in ensuring stability in the country is as the result of the ongoing integrated effort of the NICOC (National Intelligence Coordinating Committee)."
Apart from politically motivated murders in places around KwaZulu Natal, Cele said key concerns were also raised about threats made in volatile areas such as Vuwani in Limpopo.
"Although incidents were reported in Vuwani during the election with voting stations being closed and then reopened after IEC (Electoral Commission of South Africa) officials were given assurances that they would be protected, the electoral process was able to proceed. However, the element of intimidation remained," said Cele.
He said a key mitigating factor was the arrest of the spokesman of the Pro Makhado Demarcation Task Team on the eve of the elections.
Arnold Mulaudzi was arrested on charges of contravening the Electoral Act and appeared in the Vuwani magistrate court on May 9, the day after the vote. He was released on R5 000 bail and is expected to reappear in court on June 3.
Two people were arrested after a video was posted claiming that they had cast votes more than once. On May 8, Etienne Mare, aged 52, posted a video claiming that he was on his way to vote for a second time after hearing from Malinda Halloway (57) that she had been "able to do so herself".
Both Mare and Halloway appeared at the Barberton Magistrates Court on May 10 on charges of contravening electoral laws, Cele said.
"Law enforcement agencies will leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to book," the police minister added.
African News Agency (ANA)