Police to be out in full force during General Elections

Friday, March 6, 2009
By: 
Bathandwa Mbola

Pretoria - Police and other law enforcement agencies will be out in full force to ensure security during the General Elections to be held on April 22, says Safety and Security Minister Nathi Mthethwa.

"The police personnel would be stationed at about 20 000 polling stations across the country," he said, while briefing media on the Programme of Action of the government's Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS), Thursday.

To ensure an environment conductive to free and fair elections, he said, a comprehensive Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (JOINS) operational plan is in place.

"The security services have adopted an intelligence-driven approach to determine the deployment of reaction forces for identified hotspots."

On the number of police which will be deployed, the minister said the JCPS ministers will further provide a detailed briefing on the state of readiness for the forthcoming elections.

Regarding the tensions among political parties in KwaZulu-Natal, Intelligence Minister Siyabonga Cwele appealed for peace and calm.

In KwaZulu-Natal, there have been tensions between political parties in various parts of the province.

"We are also counting on political parties to ensure that there will be no intimidation, no harassment, no threats, and no form of violence across the country," the minister said.

He believes that such tensions could pose a threat to South Africa's 15 year-old democracy.

There are 23 million South Africans registered to vote in the provincial and general elections. Political parties have also pledged to adhere to the electoral code of conduct.

The cluster also discussed other matters such as the adoption of the South African Police Service (SAPS) Amendment Act and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) Amendment Act 5.

"It has been agreed that the Joint Team will take joint responsibility for all aspects of the joint operational running of the DSO as soon as possible after 1 March 2009 to ensure an effective and constructive process," Minister Mthethwa said.

The head of the new unit will soon be appointed, after discussion with the Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development, he said, indicating that the appointment might be before the end of the March.

He said the appointment will also be ratified by Cabinet and projects under investigation by the Scorpions, he said, would not be affected. "Technically the scorpions will continue with their investigations."

The DSO known as the Scorpions officially became part of the police on Sunday, he said indicating that what is left is the logistical and administrative process to facilitate the integration of the two warring units.

He said so far not a single member of the former DSO was transferred to work at a police station and in the interim will jointly work with the specialised detective units of the Police: Organised Crime and Commercial Crime units.

"The DSO, SAPS Commercial Crime and Organised Crime unit members will not automatically join the DPCI, but will be subjected to strict selection criteria which include polygraph tests, top secret clearances and competency tests, to ensure that the unit is staffed by men and women of impeccable integrity, whose credentials are beyond question."