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Security teams on alert to mitigate violence and intimidation at 500 high-risk voting stations

Security teams on alert to mitigate violence and intimidation at 500 high-risk voting stations
Minister of Defence Thandi Modise. (Photo: Gallo Images / Brenton Geach)

During a security cluster media briefing on Sunday, the government committed to having adequate safety in place for voters at the polls, and also urged people to ensure they had their ID documents, adding that overseas voting on 17 and 18 May was on track.

With the elections only 30 days away, the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster briefed the nation on the level of preparedness to ensure the safety and security of the landmark elections.

While the JCPS was elusive about specific details of security plans, Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) and the Provincial Joint Operation and Intelligence Structure had joined forces to ensure a coordinated and intelligence-led planning of operations, during and after the highly contested elections to curb intimidation and violence.

A crime and threat pattern analysis from Natjoints which had informed the development of the security plan, had led to a fit-to-purpose deployment plan that would deal with potential crime and violence in and around voting stations and result centres.

Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed that out of more than 23,000 voting stations nationwide, only 500 have been classified as high risk. However, Cele did not reveal the areas in which these stations were situated or in-depth plans to mitigate violence, intimidation and unrest.

Asked how many law enforcement officers would be deployed to voting stations across the country on 29 May, Cele refused to reveal the exact number, saying only there would be an adequate police presence.

Voting overseas

All systems are a go for South Africans living overseas to participate in the upcoming polls, it was revealed. International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said arrangements at embassies and consulates have proceeded as normal, and the Department of International Relations and Cooperation is already for citizens living abroad to cast their votes on 17 and 18 May.

The only outstanding issue is the question of honorary consuls acting as voting stations, which is currently before the Constitutional Court.

An honorary consul is an individual who is asked to represent South Africa as a friend of South Africa but is not a mission of the republic. The ConCourt must rule on the Electoral Court’s decision that consulates headed by honorary consuls should be used as voting stations.

elections voting

Safety and security preparations for the upcoming 2024 elections have revealed 500 voting stations in high-risk areas. (Photo: Fani Mahuntsi / Gallo Images)

Uncollected IDs

All South African citizens need their identity documents to take part in the polls. From 6 April the Department of Home Affairs opened its offices on Saturdays from 8am to 1pm so voters can apply for new ID documents and temporary identity certificates, as well as collect them. The offices will also be open on voting day.

In remote areas where there are no official Home Affairs offices, the department plans to open mobile offices, although the dates, times and locations have yet to be finalised.

The Branch Appointment Booking System on the department’s website can also be used to book an appointment to collect an ID.

The JCPS has urged citizens to collect ID books at Home Affairs offices before the polls. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

In South Africa, people who are in prisons have the right to register and vote, and the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) and Department of Correctional Services have reminded inmates’ families to ensure their loved ones have access to their IDs so they can do so.

Family members of offenders have been instructed to make arrangements to deliver IDs to the respective correctional facilities. DM

For information about voting and elections, see the IEC website.


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