Nothing works without KZN Police: 17,000 officers deployed to ensure election integrity

A total of 17,000 police officers were deployed across KwaZulu-Natal to ensure the smooth conduct of the election, with particular focus on regions deemed to require additional security measures.  (Supplied/SAPS)

A total of 17,000 police officers were deployed across KwaZulu-Natal to ensure the smooth conduct of the election, with particular focus on regions deemed to require additional security measures. (Supplied/SAPS)

  • Some 17,000 police officers have been deployed across KwaZulu-Natal to ensure a smooth election on Wednesday, with particular attention to regions deemed to require additional security measures.
  • Unique geographic features, including remote voting stations that can only be accessed by boat, present logistical obstacles.
  • Authorities have urged political parties and voters to refrain from taking matters into their own hands and to report any concerns to the police.

According to KwaZulu-Natal Police Commissioner Lieutenant General Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi, concerns have been raised about the movement of sensitive election-related material between the South African Electoral Commission (IEC) warehouse and polling stations without the knowledge of the police.

During a press conference in Durban on Tuesday, Mkhwanazi said concerns were raised after videos circulated on social media of uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party members claiming there were irregularities in the delivery of election materials to different parts of the province.

The party stated that the material included ballot boxes, voting ink and scanners.

READ | IEC to take action against MK Party over storage facility invasion

On Monday, News24 reported that the IEC was considering legal action against the MK Party after a group of its supporters allegedly invaded the commission’s storage space over the weekend and threatened an official.

On Sunday, the CEI responded to disinformation allegedly spread by members of the MK Party about what it called normal logistical procedure at a storage facility in Hammarsdale.

Mkhwanazi said they met with IEC officials after the incident over the weekend and produced a detailed report.

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“We have informed officials that we must prevent things like this from happening. The SAPS and all law enforcement agencies that are part of this election have a duty to protect all sensitive IEC materials by all means. This must be done from the warehouse until “If there is any sensitive material leaving the warehouse without us knowing, it becomes a concern. Without the police, they cannot move,” Mkhwanazi said.

Mkhwanazi also urged political parties to avoid taking the law into their own hands and report problems to the police.

According to police, 17,000 officers were deployed in KwaZulu-Natal for the election.

The last contingent of more than 500 police officers was sent to the northern part of the province on Tuesday morning.

Mkhwanazi said there were three districts in the province that needed large numbers of police officers: Zululand, Uthukela and Umkhanyakude.

He said the police were confident they had enough officers to ensure a smooth election, adding that they had not recorded any incidents since Monday. The special vote proceeded smoothly and without interruptions.

However, he stressed that the province is “very unique.”

We have voting stations that require boats to get to them. IEC officials and police have to use boats to reach those polling stations as we have to cross the river to one side. Besides that, we must return before sunset. That means that the voting station has to close before others.

“But we have boats for that, as well as helicopters that allow us to get to places that might be difficult. Many of our areas are rural and we have a lot of all-terrain vehicles that we have deployed to help us execute these operations.” he said.

As the province experienced riots and looting in 2021, as well as blockades of major roads such as the N3 and N2, Mkhwanazi said police engaged with political parties to prevent violence.

He added that they expected people who felt aggrieved by anything to act responsibly.

“I hope our people in the province disappoint the entire country and don’t do what they are expected to do. I hope they behave and show that they are united as a province.”