5 May 2014
The authorities will adopt a zero-tolerance approach towards any person or group who attempts to disrupt South Africa’s general election on Wednesday, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa said on the weekend.
“No one will be allowed to prevent anyone from exercising his or her constitutionally enshrined right to vote,” Mthethwa told reporters on Saturday following a visit to Gauteng province’s troubled Bekkersdal informal settlement by ministers from the government’s justice, crime prevention and security cluster.
“Security structures have been mobilised and stand ready to act swiftly to remove disruptive elements and ensure that our people feel free and safe to go out and exercise their right to vote,” he said.
The ministers began their visit with an engagement with community leaders before conducting a walkabout in the area. They were well received by residents, who assured them that they would be going to the polling stations on Wednesday to cast their votes.
The ministers have over the past two weeks visited Kwa-Mashu and Wembezi in KwaZulu-Natal, Mannenberg in the Western Cape, Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape, and Freedom Park and Itsoseng in North West province.
At each engagement they spoke to communities, conducted walkabouts and obtained detailed briefings from security structures on the ground.
A report by the South Africa’s security agencies notes that the country is stable and the environment is conducive for successful elections, save for a few areas that have been flagged as “hot-spots”.
Mthethwa said the number of hot-spots across the country had significantly decreased, thanks to interventions made over the past weeks following the ministers’ visits as well as work by security agencies on the ground.
He added that all voting stations and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) operations centres would be secured with appropriate police deployments.
“The SANDF [SA National Defence Force] also stands ready to provide additional deployments, in support of the SAPS [SA Police Service], should the need arise,” Mthethwa said. “Provincial joint operations are activated across the country and fully operational.