/ 26 October 2021

Police identify 300 high risk areas during local government elections

Bheki Cele 1
Police Minister Bheki Cele. Photo: Supplied

At least 300 areas in four provinces — the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal — have been classified as local government elections hotspots. 

Police Minister Bheki Cele announced this during Monday’s media briefing by the justice and security cluster. 

The police service also identified 19 000 low risk areas and 3 000 medium risk areas, where police officials and other law enforcement agencies will be sent during the poll. 

Cele said that in Gauteng additional law enforcement officials will be sent to areas in Tshwane, including Memolodi, Mabopane and Atteridgeville, to quell any violent attacks related to the elections. 

An additional 193 police officials with 150 vehicles will be on the streets of areas such as Khayelitsha in the Western Cape. 

Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) will be on standby to provide support to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and the police, and will protect national key points.

Modise told journalists that the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) had put together an election security plan that is managed by the national, provincial, district and local structures of the security cluster. 

This plan, she said, will ensure there is sufficient police visibility at voting stations around the country to prevent crime or intimidation of voters and others.

“The deployment of the police, SANDF and other law-enforcement agencies will be determined and guided by structured threat analysis and crime patterns.  Over and above the physical deployments of police officers at voting districts, reserve forces from the police are on standby to provide additional assistance should the need arise in and around the identified hotspot areas. To this end, security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety and security of voters, IEC officials, roleplayers, equipment, resources, voting stations and the general public,” she said. 

Several people have been killed and injured during the ANC’s candidate selection process. At least six people, mostly ANC members and one believed to be an Economic Freedom Fighters member, died in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of political violence.  

In Tshwane, a councillor, Tshepo Motaung, was gunned down. An ANC candidate in the Eastern Cape was stabbed to death after a community meeting.  

Violent incidents during voter registration in KwaZulu-Natal point towards high levels of political intolerance in the Midlands and other parts of the province.

The province was the busiest in terms of voter registration, with more than 358 384 people registering to vote over the two-day period, another indication that the poll is likely to be hotly contested.

This was despite earlier fears that the riots and looting sparked by the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma might result in a boycott of the polls by his supporters in the ANC.

The IEC confirmed that three registration centres in the Msunduzi municipality were unable to open because of protests. Nationally, 63 centres were not able to open for registration for a variety of reasons, among them protests.

In Dambuza and Willowfontein in Pietermaritzburg, EFF leader Julius Malema and his entourage were denied access to several registration stations by ANC members. ANC members locked the gates at one registration station in Willowfontein, while at another video footage showed EFF members being assaulted when they formed a human chain around Malema to stop ANC members from attacking him.

In September, the Democratic Alliance’s sound vehicle was attacked and torched by armed men outside Richmond, near Pietermaritzburg. Staff members were held at gunpoint and taken to a remote area by their attackers, who then burned the vehicle.

The department of home affairs will extend its operating hours by two and a half hours in 197 of its offices around the country for those wishing to collect their smart identity documents and passports — and to assist people who have lost or misplaced their identity documents to apply for a temporary identity certificate during the voting period. 

“This intervention is aimed at meeting demand for services. Members of the public have responded well to this call as we have witnessed an increase in the number of people who visited the offices in the past week,” she said. 

From 30 October until 1 November, all 412 home affairs offices will be open from 7am to 9pm.

Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi said that as of 22 October, there were 370 000 uncollected identity documents at the department’s branches.