SAPS confident of delivering a secure, free and fair election

Published Mar 27, 2024


Hope Ntanzi

AS South Africa gears up for one of the country’s most hotly contested elections since 1994, questions have been raised about the state of readiness of security agencies to ensure that the polls are peaceful.

Recent polling research indicates that the African National Congress’ (ANC) grip on power will diminish both nationally and provincially. The provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng are set to be key battlegrounds, with all the major political parties ramping up their political activities in these provinces.

It is against this background that fears of election-related violence and the capacity of the country’s security agencies to secure the elections have been raised.

Despite these fears, SA Police Service (SAPS) KZN provincial spokesperson Colonel Robert Netshuinda told IOL that the SAPS is ready to ensure a peaceful election and will be deploying all personnel, mobilising support staff and dedicated police officers to be on the ground.

’’Everything is in place and ready for South Africa’s 7th General Elections in May 2024. We are pleased to say that the SAPS has put in place detailed training programmes. Training in crowd control, dispute resolution, election security, and voting stations is all part of this.“

Netshuinda said that the SAPS approach hasn’t changed much since the 2019 elections and that plans for the screening of all voting stations, warehouses, results centres, IEC staff, and service providers, and the conduct of security audits were in place for the elections.

He said that the SAPS is also collaborating with IEC to address any threats to the electoral process.

‘’The SAPS is conducting threat assessments and has identified potential security threats and dangers during the elections by carrying out detailed risk assessments, as well as threats. There are proactive measures that have been put in place to reduce any risks and ensure a safe and secure environment for the voters.

‘We are devoted to providing security measures, safeguarding voters' rights, and making sure the 2024 elections are held in a free, fair and transparent manner, “ said Netshuinda.

In an opinion article written for IOL earlier this month, prominent KZN safety and security analyst Mary de Haas flagged the rise in political violence in KZN as a major concern.

“As the elections loom, reports of the murders of councillors and skirmishes between various political party supporters at by-elections have fuelled fears about a possible return to the carnage of the 1990s.

“That conflict was sponsored by the apartheid state but, although the context is now different, events of July 2021 showed how much damage can be done by covert, well organised and as yet unidentified forces with an unknown agenda. Based on pre-election periods in the past decade, it is probable that violence levels will increase, said De Haas.

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