Provinces geared up for Election Day

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

The Electoral Commission at the country’s nine provinces say they are ready to open their doors to the 26 744 565 South Africans on the voter’s roll who will make their mark for the 2019 National and Provincial Elections.

The provinces have indicated that the special votes, which kicked off on Monday, were a test run for their planning and preparations.

Through the JCPS cluster intelligence driven operations and the IEC, hotspots in the country have been identified and will be prioritised. In total, 51 306 police officers will be deployed in the voting stations across the country.

A capacity of five teams will be maintained at national level to be deployed to any part of the country where the situation requires urgent intervention to deal with high risk situations.

The highest risk areas are the North West and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

North West Community Safety MEC Mpho Motlhabane said: “We are deeply concerned that our province has been declared a hotspot because of people that want to be on the wrong side of the law.”

Motlhabane went on to condemn the torching of Tlhakajeng Primary School in Kraaipan Village as part of the boycotting of elections.

Motlhabane called for a thorough investigation and the arrest of the people responsible for the torching of the school.

Meanwhile, the MEC reported that six suspects were arrested after an IEC official’s car was set alight on Monday.

The KZN provincial commission said it will be keeping an eye on those hotspots which can hamper services and the opening of voting stations on time. They include service delivery protests in Mandeni, Ndwedwe, Ubuhlebezwe and Umlazi within the eThekwini Metro Municipality. 

“All reported incidents which were reported during special votes have been efficiently resolved and operations resumed without any further delays. As a Provincial Commission we are confident that operations will continue smoothly throughout on Wednesday,” Communications Officer Thabani Ngwira said.

Ngwira said they had to erect two tents to replace voting centres that were damaged in the recent floods.

Free State provincial IEC spokesperson Mmabatho Rasengane said the residents in the town of Viljoenskroon torched a community hall that was set to have been a voting station tomorrow.

They are working with the law enforcement agencies to stabilise the situation and implement an alternative.

Incidents have also been reported in the troublesome Vuwani where residents have gone on a shutdown saying they will only vote once they are promised that they will go back to the Makhado Municipality.

Reports from the ground in the Eastern Cape are that the IEC and police will keep an eye on the voting stations in Ginsberg, outside King William’s Town, and Idutywa in the Eastern Cape after election staff and special voters were prevented from conducting voting due to community unrest.

Gauteng Provjoints - under the chairpersonship of Provincial Commissioner of Police Lieutenant General Elias Mawela - for their part confirmed the state of readiness of the security detail in Gauteng to deliver safe and secure elections.

Mawela said deployments throughout the election period will be intelligence-driven and responsive to threat assessment per voting station.

With over 2760 voting stations in Gauteng, measures have been put in place by the Provjoints in anticipation of possible security breaches that were prevalent in previous elections such as: intimidation of voters and electoral officers; obstruction of voting and the voting process; public violence and malicious damage to property; theft and common robberies at or near voting stations, he said.

“Safety and security forms an integral part of the IEC's mandate to deliver free and fair elections. Police thus need the cooperation of peace loving and law abiding citizens to work with us during these elections, and together fight any criminal element that seeks to frustrate the delivery of crime-free elections," Mawela before calling for enhanced community-police relations over the election period and beyond.

The Northern Cape said all systems are in place for a smooth day.

“We have been planning for this for the better part of two years now. We are working closely with SAPS and specifically the intelligence sectors who continuously update us on possible threats. At this stage we believe that our communities are eager to cast their votes and have not identified red flag areas,” Ntsoaki Sebeela.

Voting stations will be open from 7am-9pm tomorrow. This Election Day has been declared a public holiday to facilitate voting. –