By SA News
The South African Police Service is committed to ensuring peaceful local government elections next week on 3 August.
More than 50 000 police officers will be deployed at 22 612 voting stations countrywide as South Africans take to the polls in the 2016 Local Government Elections and elect the leadership of their choice.
Speaking on Thursday at a New Age business briefing, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko reiterated that come next week, there will be zero “no-go areas”.
“Our point of emphasis is that we have to secure the environment to such an extent that communities are able to excise their constitutional right to vote,” Minister Nhleko.
As of June, the police had 1000 voting districts which were classified as high risk areas. This number has since been reduced to 650.
“This tells you that because of our operations, we have been able to reduce the number. I am confident that we will be able to do our bit from the police side,” said Minister Nhleko.
However, he said, the overall success of the election requires all stakeholders in the country to play an active role in ensuring they are peaceful, free and fair.
Acting National Police Commissioner Kgomotso Phahlane echoed these sentiments. He said the success of the police is highly dependent on the collaboration between communities and visible policing.
Regarding the violence in the area of Vuwani, in Limpopo, he assured the residents they will have a platform to vote which will be secured by the police.
“The Vuwani that we have experienced is not going to be repeated. What happened there is unfortunate. We have revised our plans and done the necessary deployment,” said General Phahlane.
He said one of the measures for the Limpopo area included that a number of the new cadets that are graduating today will be deployed in Vuwani.
Regarding the violent protests that broke out in Tshwane, which saw shops being looted and roads being barricaded, Minister Nhleko said the police secured and stabilised the city in 24 hours.
“We can assure that it’s not going to happen again. We are paying specific focus to ensure that people go to the elections freely.”
National Deputy Head for the Hawks Major General Yolisa Matakata said the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation was working on gaining intelligence to ensure safe elections.
“We are working with all the role-players within the police and intelligence community to ensure that we link that information and plan accordingly,” she said.
With regards to the 25 politically-related crimes during the election period, with 14 cases opened for murder and attempted murder, Minister Nhleko said nine suspects have been arrested.
“We continue to follow leads on a number of these particular cases. We are also working with prosecution authorities in fast tracking some of these particular cases.”
He added that the police will continue to do what is necessary to ensure that the matters are resolved.