Popcru commends police for good elections work

POLICE Minister Bheki Cele, speaking during interviews with members of the media at the National Results Operations Centre, Gallagher convention centre in Midrand. | Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

POLICE Minister Bheki Cele, speaking during interviews with members of the media at the National Results Operations Centre, Gallagher convention centre in Midrand. | Itumeleng English Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 2, 2024


The Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has commended South Africa’s law enforcement community including members of the SAPS for a job well done in ensuring that the elections were peaceful and without major incidents.

On Friday, Popcru president Thulani Ngwenya said he had noted the good work of the country's men and women in uniform who have worked around the clock to ensure the safety of voters, as well as communities, during the country's most contested elections on May 29.

He said ahead of the elections, there were concerns due to various issues that were left unattended until the last minute.

Ngwenya added that there were concerns also that the elections could be disrupted by certain groups, either through violence, intimidation of voters and election staff, protests or barricades.

“In response, our traffic and police officers increased their presence and visibility, and worked hard to secure voting stations and prevent any serious disruptions that may have negatively impacted our democratic processes, or the safety of our communities and citizens, Ngwenya said.

The good work of the police and other law enforcement agencies was also noted by Police Minister Bheki Cele, who commended the police for their hard work during his visit to the IEC National Elections Results Centre in Midrand on Friday.

Cele said the fact that no one was asking him questions about the work of the police meant that they had done their job, as there were no major incidents, only minor elections-related crimes involving more than 50 people who were arrested between Monday and Wednesday.

“I am glad that people that have caused that chaos, both of them are arrested now; they were arrested on Wednesday and appearing in court today, and many more arrests of those people that have been causing problems. If I am not mistaken, about 50 people that had to do with the problems during the elections have been arrested," Cele said.

Early in the week, IOL News reported that at least 98 cases of contravention of the Electoral Act had been opened since Monday, National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) chairperson Lieutenant-General Tebello Mosikili said on Thursday.

She said some of the cases included malicious damage to property, theft of political party posters on the streets, destroying electoral material and assaulting electoral officials, while some were of intimidation.

Ngwenya said there was heightened security deployment to ensure free and fair elections, with police officers and traffic officials deployed at all the 23 000 voting stations across the country.

"Our police and traffic officials were on high alert at a number of voting stations that became overcrowded during the 14-hour voting period, sparking rising frustration among queuing voters and raising the risk of potential conflicts.

"Additionally, reports indicate that some voting stations were affected by small-scale protests, such as the 32 stations that opened late in the Eastern Cape. However, no serious incidents occurred," he said.

Ngwenya added that credit must be given to NatJoints, whose efforts to identify high-risk areas prior to election day ensured that law enforcement members were adequately deployed in line with expected risk levels at each station. Continuous monitoring of the situation in the days before and on the day of the elections also allowed for fast reaction times and strategic adjustments to deployment as the need arose.

“The increase in police boots on the ground served to lower tensions and the risk of disruptions, but it is also important to recognise the contribution of our traffic members, who were hard at work ensuring that the roads around voting stations remained secure. Their presence supported traffic management around the stations, facilitating a smoother voting process for citizens, while serving as a key deterrent against any mischief or violence," he said.

When it comes to the voting at various correctional facilities, Ngwenya said all inmates who were eligible to vote were allowed to exercise their rights, with no incidents across all the facilities.

”Finally, Correctional Services members also performed admirably, ensuring that the nearly 15 000 inmates registered to vote received a fair opportunity to cast their ballots, and increasing supervision to prevent any political tensions from arising. Ngwenya urged law enforcement to remain vigilant while the counting process is ongoing, and leading up to the final results announcement this week. He said there was still potential for unrest among certain groups following the outcome, but hoped the country would remain steadfast in its solidarity and avoid unnecessary tension.

"We are proud of our members in the criminal justice cluster who continue to perform their work with diligence as they seek to protect our democracy and communities," he said.

The Star

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