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Local government elections: Bheki Cele says number of high-risk areas in KwaZulu-Natal rising

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Police Minister Bheki Cele. Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 31, 2021


Durban - A day before the entire country goes to the polls to elect their local governments for the next five years, the minister of police, Bheki Cele, has raised alarms that more areas in KwaZulu-Natal are being classified as high risk.

He said in areas like KwaDukuza and eThekwini, some councillor candidates have survived assassination attempts while other candidates are in hiding, fearing for their lives ahead of the elections.

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Cele who was speaking to police officers before they departed from Durban to various voting stations across KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday said despite that, SAPS officers should be ready to remove any threat that could impede the voting process.

He was emphatic to the police that their role is to assist the Electoral Commission of South Africa to stage free, fair and credible elections and not to take over the process. His remarks come as on Saturday violence erupted in Umzinto in the south of KwaZulu-Natal and in Camperdown, pitting the police against protesters, leading to injuries and scuffles.

Among the extra hotspots, Cele identified while he was speaking to the police battalion was Nongoma, Ulundi, eThekwini and Newcastle.

"You must double vigilant... in your double vigilance, you must stay out of politics, completely stay out of politics, do your job, your job is very much defined in the constitution. What to do? it is to protect, to combat, to investigate, but also emphasizes the point that yourselves as officers you need to uphold the law and enforce the law. Just don't forget to do that.

"So it would be important then to keep elections safe... you keep the outcome safe and the integrity that they deserve. How do you do that? Do that by working with the IEC to protect the stations," Cele said to the battalion before their departure.

Cele stressed that while South Africans have a right to protest any time they want to, they must not block those who want to vote or block police stations and if that happens, the police must act decisively.

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"They have the right to protest but that right is limited, it is not unlimited. How it is limited? You don't protest armed but your freedom of protest should not interfere with the next person. Therefore, if people say they don't want to go and vote, of which we don't have to force anybody to go and vote, that's fine, but we can't say those who don't want to vote must stop other people to go to vote.

"Therefore, stations will have to be must make sure that anybody that stands on the way of any South African that wants to vote go and vote, make sure that you assist that South Africans, take away or remove any form of hurdle that blocks South Africans to go and vote. That includes human beings," he said.

Meanwhile, the second day of voting was proceeding well and the electoral commission was expected to give a full report about the process later in the day.

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Political Bureau