ELECTIONS: Police officers on hand to ensure safety of polling stations and voters

When South Africans head to the polls in just over seven hours from now, stringent measures have been put in place to ensure their safety.

The South African Police Services (SAPS) are taking a “zero tolerance” approach to criminal activities related to the elections.

SAPS spokesperson Solomon Makgale spoke to Wits Vuvuzela earlier today and said: “We will not tolerate any activities by criminals who intend to disrupt the elections.”

Police officers will be monitoring polling stations and people who are found to be in possession of dangerous weapons, firearms and alcohol will be dealt with, he added.

Makgale said if one is found guilty of these charges, they may face a jail term of up to 5 years, or be fined anything up to R100 000.

“Everyone has a right to vote and no one may interfere with that right,” he said.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) have reported that 63 people have been arrested to date in cases related to various contraventions of the Electoral Act.

These offences include public violence, intimidation, assault with intent to cause grievously bodily harm, common assault, malicious damage to property, including the unlawful removal of posters.

“Those who break the law will be arrested and prosecuted” Makgale said.

Makgale said that political parties are free to campaign wherever they would like to, “we will not allow the creation of no-go zones” he said.  According to the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission), political parties are only to campaign until midnight tonight.

The police are not allowed to be inside the area where booths are located, unless requested by the electoral officer in charge of that station.  But SAPS officers will partol the perimeters of the stations and stand guard at the gates.

While an official number has not been made available, media reports suggest that close to 200 000 police officers will be deployed for the elections alone.