Law enforcement lauded for election coverage

Monday, May 13, 2019

The Justice Crime Prevention and Security cluster has commended the country’s law enforcement agencies for ensuring that last week’s National and Provincial Elections were held without any major incidents.  

On Election Day on Wednesday, 173 643 personnel maintained a heightened police visibility in all nine provinces.

This emerged during a press briefing on Monday by ministers in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster following the conclusion of the elections at the weekend.

Speaking on behalf of the cluster, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the election was largely major incident-free, with many voters exercising tolerance and patience.

“The deployed police officers and reservists conducted themselves with dignity and in a befitting manner which is consummate to their responsibility as law enforcement agents. SAPS also managed to contain the flaring of violence in the different priority areas (hotspots) especially in KwaZulu-Natal and North West as the cluster identified prior to the elections,” the Minister said.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) during and after last week’s elections arrested 24 people on charges ranging from electoral fraud to intimidation.

A journalist and a community leader were among them. Etienne Mare, 52, and Malinda Halloway, 57, were arrested on Voting Day after they posted a video on social media claiming to have cast more than one vote.

Cele said Mare and Halloway appeared in the Barberton Magistrate’s Court on 10 May on charges of contravening Section 88 (d) Voting more than once; Section 89 (i)(a) Intentional making a false statement, alternatively of fraud and Section 90(2)(a) Infringement of secrecy of the Electoral Act.

“Law enforcement agencies will leave no stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators to book,” he said.

The NATJOINTS, the minister said, announced the arrest of 22 suspects after attempting to vote for a second time.

“Nineteen suspects were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal of which 16 were alleged to have transgressed in Dannhauser, two in Hluhluwe and one in the Port Shepstone while the 20th suspect was arrested in Douglasdale in Gauteng,” said Cele.

He said the swift response in investigating and arresting all the suspects who are alleged to have committed electoral fraud is commendable.

Another notable arrest last week was that of Pro Makhado Demarcation Task Team (PMDTT) spokesperson Arnold Mulaudzi. Mulaudzi was arrested on charges of contravening Section 87(1)(a) par. 2 & 3 of the Electoral Act, appeared in the Vuwani Magistrate’s Court on Thursday where he was released on R5000 bail. He is expected to reappear in court on 3 June 2019

In terms of crime in general during the election period, police registered 188 cases. Of these 203 suspects have been arrested and 53 cases are currently in court. Ninety-nine of these cases are under investigation while a further nine cases are currently with the Senior Public Prosecutor for decision.

In the build up to the elections, government established the Intelligence Coordinating Committee (ICC) and conducted threat assessments and identified problematic areas on an ongoing basis.

“Both these aspects impacted on the risk rating of voting stations that was also reviewed on an ongoing basis. Although the problematic areas were fluid, depending on the circumstances at any given time, they remained located in specific clusters. Our success in ensuring stability in the country is as the result of the ongoing integrated effort of the NICOC,” Cele said.

“Although incidents were reported in Vuwani during the election with voting stations being closed and then reopened after IEC officials were given assurances that they would be protected, the electoral process was able to proceed. However, the element of intimidation remained,” Cele said. –