National Police Commissioner Kehla Sitole says the police will protect IEC officers in North West during the general election on May 8. Photo: ANA/Stringer

Mahikeng - Electoral officers working at identified hot spots in the North West will be protected by law enforcement officers, National Police Commissioner Kehla Sitole has assured.

"There is a threat assessment conducted against all IEC [Electoral Commission of South Africa] officials, and this threats are link to areas they are operating," said Sitole. 

"The first instructions is that if the threat assessment warrants their close protection, we do it and if the threat assessment is linked to a hotspot ... everywhere ... where they will be going to a hotspot they will be linked to the police ... they will not be going alone, they will be secured." 

The national police commissioner made the assurance on Tuesday.

He was in Mahikeng to assess the state of readiness of the security forces going to Wednesday's general election.

However, two electoral officers' cars were torched in Mmadinonyane, Ganyesa in the North West province.

North West police spokesman Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone said an area manager and other official were allegedly stopped by members of the community on Monday, and they were robbed of their cell phones and their cars torched.

"The incident led to damage to the voting material that was loaded in one of the vehicles. A police vehicle that was escorting the two vehicles was allegedly pelted with stones," he said.

Following this incident 21 people were arrested. 

They were expected to appear in the Ganyesa Magistrate's Court on Thursday, facing charges of contravention of the Electoral Act, malicious damage to property and robbery.

North West and KwaZulu-Natal have been flagged as hotspots. In North West potential conflict risk areas have been identified.

Sitole said more than 5 000 police officers have been deployed in the North West, they have been complemented by a national reserve force. The army is on standby, ready to respond should the need arise.

African News Agency/ANA