/ 19 May 2024

Natjoints says measures are in place to ensure safe elections on 29 May

3a345fab Police Delwynverasamy Scaled
A lack of effective political leadership has contributed to the stagnation and decline of the South African Police Service (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) is confident that it has put sufficient security measures in place to ensure that 29 May general elections proceed without incidents of crime and disruptions, its chairperson Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili said.

Mosikili told a media briefing on Sunday that the Natjoints coordination centre would come into operation for the elections from Wednesday, 22 May until 9 June and would work around the clock to proactively identify threats and vulnerabilities. 

“Having conducted a national security assessment with key role players in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster, we are satisfied with the operational plan that is currently being implemented, and can assure South Africans that a conducive environment for a peaceful election has been prepared,” she said.

Mosikili said security forces were aware of social media posts calling for a shutdown by a group of truck drivers this week and warned that there would be “zero tolerance towards threats, intimidation and closure of our roads”.

“Law enforcement agencies are on high alert to ensure there are no criminal activities and that law abiding citizens are not inconvenienced. We call on the Road Freight Industry workers to communicate their grievances within the confines of the law,” she said.

A number of high-risk voting stations with potential volatile instances had been identified and plans were in place for possible deployment of the members of the South African National Defence Force, she said.

Fifty election related cases had been reported during the two voter registration weekends in November  2023 and this February, with 45 suspects arrested around the country for charges including contravening the Electoral Act, assault and malicious damage to property.

During the period after voter registration weekend, 23 cases had been reported, Mosikili said. These included a 64-year-old woman arrested in Sasolburg in the Free State after she was caught on video tampering with an election poster. In Gauteng, a 70-year-old man was also arrested after being seen on video illegally removing posters.

Police were investigating two cases of break-ins and theft at the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s offices in Houghton in Gauteng and in Caledon in the Western Cape. 

Mosikili said one of the biggest threats was fake news and that Natjoints — which is led by the South African Police Service, the South African National Defence Force and the State Security Agency — strongly condemned the spreading of that, as well as “unverified information, rumours or threats as this seeks to cause panic and confusion, and in some instances incite possible violence”.

“We urge members of the public to fact-check first before sharing anything on social media platforms. Those who are found to be sharing inflammatory messages and inciting violence will be charged accordingly,” she said.

Last month Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the government had put measures in place to protect all public facilities, national key points and other essential infrastructure that criminal elements might target. 

Modise said anyone found guilty of damaging essential infrastructure could be sentenced to up to 30 years if found guilty.
She said this year’s general elections were believed to be the most contested in the country’s history, with 14 903 candidates vying for 887 seats in the national and provincial legislatures.