Crack down on political violence

Friday, April 25, 2014
Chris Bathembu

Cape Town – With the general elections on May 7 less than two weeks away, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa says law enforcement agencies will increase their presence in a number of communities that are often plagued by political violence. 

“Our task as the Security Cluster this time is to look into the issue of safety for the communities and do away with hotspots and no-go zones,” Minister Mthethwa told SAnews in an interview on Thursday.

“We want to see to it that there won’t be any no-go areas in South Africa,” he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Minister Mthethwa was joined by several other ministers from the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster as he visited the so-called hotspot areas in Cape Town to assess the communities’ readiness for the election.

“We are sending a warning to would-be disruptors that we are not going to be friendly to them when they disrupt a very important national duty,” Minister Mthethwa said, referring to the May 7 poll.

It will be South Africa’s fifth general election since 1994 and will be symbolic in many respects as it coincides with the country’s 20 years of freedom and democracy.

South Africa’s centuries-long white minority rule ended in April 1994 when the majority black people voted for a democratic government led by Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.

Since 1994, government and civil society have notably worked on promoting a multiparty democracy and political freedom which is guaranteed in the country’s constitution. But political violence in some parts of the country had threatened to weaken South Africa’s democracy which has become the model of the African continent.

This probably explains the government’s push to ensure the upcoming elections are free of any political conflict and disruption as predicted by some. Police leadership has found that these identified hotspots are characterised by intra and inter political contestation and include the areas particularly in periods leading to elections.

“We have come a long way as country. We will not allow a few individuals to disrupt us from ensuring that these elections are free of any violence of any kind,” Minister Mthethwa said.

Government wanted to ensure that South Africa’s citizens exercised their democratic right to vote in a peaceful, free and fair environment, he said.

After a meeting with Western Cape’s police leadership, the minister said he was pleased with Cape Town’s readiness for the elections.

“I am satisfied that when the day comes, we are going to have a successful election free of any conflict and it will be free and fair. I am satisfied with the readiness of our personnel on the ground.”

On Thursday, the entourage included ministers of security, defence, international relations and cooperation, correctional services as well as local police leadership and government officials.

The delegation made stops at townships like Khayelitsha, Manenberg, Phillipi and Tafelsig where informal discussions were held with residents and community leaders.

The ministers also spoke to people on the streets regarding their concerns about crime, gangsterism and drug abuse. Residents in all the visited areas had the issues of crime, drug abuse and gansterism on their list of concerns. 

Meanwhile, Acting GCIS CEO and Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams took part in a live radio programme targeting community radio stations across the country. The two-hour programme focused on the country’s 20 years of freedom and what it meant for South Africans.  –



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