'No tolerance' for election law-breakers


Those arrested for election-related offences such as disrupting political meetings face jail time and hefty fines, according to the police.

'No one will be allowed to prevent anyone from exercising his or her constitutionally enshrined right to vote.' (AFP)

People who are arrested for election-related offences face penalties including jail time and hefty fines, the South African Police Service (SAPS) said on Saturday. 

“They [the offences] carry a penalty of up to R100 000 or five years imprisonment,” said national police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale. 

He said criminal acts ranged from intimidation and the interruption of political meetings to the pulling down or defacement of political party election posters. 

Makgale said the most recent figure for the overall number of arrests was 50 people. An updated amount would be released on Monday. 

North West was the province with the highest number of arrests for election-related offences, he said. 

Decrease in hot spots
On Saturday, the government communication and information system (GCIS) said the number of areas identified as sites of possible political tension during the May 7 elections had gone down. 

“The number of hotspots across the country has significantly decreased,” said GCIS chief executive Phumla Williams. “This is informed by the interventions made over the past weeks as a direct consequence of the work by security agencies on the ground”. 

Over the past two weeks, various ministers and officials have visited areas including KwaMashu and Wembezi in KwaZulu-Natal, Mannenberg in the Western Cape, Sterskpruit in the Eastern Cape, Freedom Park and Itsoseng in North West and Bekkersdal in Gauteng. 

During their visits, the ministers and officials – all from the security cluster – had “noted few incidents of instability”, said Williams. 

Zero tolerance
She said that “no tolerance” would be shown to anyone who disrupted the elections. 

“No one will be allowed to prevent anyone from exercising his or her constitutionally enshrined right to vote.” 

Earlier this week, the police said that the elections would be safe. At the time, Makgale said that police would be deployed to every voting station in the country. 

President Jacob Zuma’s office has announced that about 2 000 troops have been deployed to assist police during the election and presidential inauguration. – Sapa

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