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With just 30 days left until South Africans head to the polls, government has assured citizens that the seventh National and Provincial Elections will be conducted in a safe and secure environment.

“As the government, we want to issue a stern warning to anyone with intentions to disrupt the elections that the law enforcement officers will deal with them decisively and will put them behind bars,” Minister of Defence and Military Veterans Thandi Modise said on Sunday in Pretoria.

Addressing a media briefing by the Justice, Crime Prevention, and Security (JCPS) Cluster, the Minister emphasised that no one has a right to intimidate and prevent others from exercising their Constitutional right to vote for a party of his or her choice.

“We want to assure the public of the readiness of the JCPS Cluster to execute its mandate of protecting the public, our country’s strategic installations and infrastructure during the election period. We will do everything in our power to protect all those who want to exercise their Constitutional right to vote,” the Minister said.

The 2024 General Elections are believed to be the most contested in the history of this country. Overall, 70 political parties are contesting the elections, 11 independent candidates, and the national contestants are 52.

In total, there are over 14, 903 candidates vying for 887 seats in the National and Provincial Legislatures.

“Our approach as the JCPS Cluster is to ensure coordinated and intelligence-led planning and operations pre-, during, and postelections where multi-departmental teams work together to ensure that all South Africans exercise their Constitutional rights without fear of intimidation or violence.

“This coordination is managed by National and Provincial JOINTS [ Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure] structures of the JCPS Cluster and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Inter-departmental Priority Committees were established in 2023 at both the National and Provincial levels to safety and security planning.

“Our law enforcement agencies have led in developing the national security plan which has been approved by the Ministers of the JCPS Cluster. NATJOINTS [National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure] has done a thorough threat and crime pattern analysis to inform the development of a security plan and they want to ensure that nothing is left to chance,” the Minister said.

Fit-for purpose

Based on the threat and crime pattern analysis, NATJOINTS has recommended a fit-for-purpose deployment plan that will deal with any potential threats of crime and violence in and around voting stations and national and provincial results centres.

“We have also put measures in place to protect all public facilities that will be used for voting, national key points and other essential infrastructure that might be targeted by criminal elements. In addition, the Criminal Matters Amendment Act of 2015 states that any person who tampers with or damages essential infrastructure is guilty of a criminal offence and he/she can be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years if found guilty

“The South African Police Service (SAPS) Ministry and SAPS management have conducted several oversite roadshows in all provinces where they met with the station commanders of all police stations and district commissioners to assess the SAPS state of readiness and preparedness to ensure safety and security.

“The management of SAPS and Ministry are satisfied with the level of readiness of all the provinces and districts to provide policing services pre-, during and post-the elections,” Modise said.

The elections will be policed within the relevant prescripts and laws and police officers will enforce the law accordingly.

“We want to reiterate that the security plan will be constantly reviewed as the situation changes and we will adapt as required. As the JCPS Cluster leadership, we want to send a clear message to the public that no incitement to violence, lawlessness, destruction of infrastructure, or barricading of roads will be tolerated. Anyone who participates in any form of criminal activity will be dealt with.

“We therefore reiterate to all South Africans that political rights for citizens are guaranteed and should not be violated. The JCPS will ensure that all the rights enshrined in the Constitution are not violated,” she said.

Among these rights are the rights to freedom, security, and protection from all forms of violence from either public or private sources.

“Although the Constitution allows all citizens to participate in protests, pickets and present petitions, those who participate in these activities must do so peacefully and not violate the rights of those who do not want to participate. Anyone who is found to have contravened these critical provisions of the Constitution during this period will be met with the full authority of the state,” the Minister said. –

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