/ 5 June 2024

More Public Order Police deployed to KwaZulu-Natal amid post-election tensions

Violent Protests Erupt In Swellendam In South Africa
The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure made the additional deployment as social media mobilisation against the election results continued. (File photo by Jaco Marais/Getty Images)

A second group of more than 300 members of the Public Order Policing Unit (PoP) has been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to reinforce the security presence in the province in response to fears of an outbreak of violence in the wake of the elections.

Even though the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party took 45% of the vote in the province, it is challenging the outcome of the election, while its leader, Jacob Zuma, on Saturday threatened “trouble” should the result be declared.

The party has threatened to go to court — along with 25 others — making unspecified claims of vote rigging by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), but there is anxiety in the KwaZulu-Natal of a repeat of the July 2021 riots.

On Tuesday, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure made the additional deployment as social media mobilisation against the results continued.

South African Police Service (SAPS) spokesperson Brigadier Athlenda Mathe said the additional police officers  were meant to “bolster policing operations in the post-elections phase”.

She said units deployed ahead of the elections would remain in place while “activities related to the election results” were monitored by law enforcement.

“Law enforcement agencies are ready for any emerging incidents,” Mathe said.

National police commissioner General Fannie Masemola said they had delivered a peaceful election in which voters were able to make their choices freely and would “continue to respond accordingly to prevent and combat criminality”.

“We thank voters and communities for thus far conducting themselves in an orderly and responsible manner. We hope this will prevail. Those who step out of line will be dealt with,” he said.

The PoP deployment comes the day after the Zulu king, MisuZulu ka Zwelithini, thanked parties for their peaceful conduct and called on them to accept the result of the election, which he said had been free and fair.

In a statement issued by his traditional prime minister, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, the king also  called on izinduna in hostels in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng to remain “vigilant” and to report any attempts to incite violence or unrest to security forces.

MisuZulu asked the security forces to “deal firmly” with anybody who attempted to cause “instability and mayhem” after the release of the election results.

“His majesty is confident that all political leaders will commit themselves to respect the outcomes of the elections and to play their part in promoting peace, development and stability,” Buthelezi said.

Outgoing ANC MP Vusi Dube, who is also a bishop at the eThekwini Community Church, said he and other religious leaders would meet to come up with a way to ensure that relations between supporters of the MK party and the ANC did not result in violence.