Police Minister Bheki Cele has instructed the South African Police Service to make sure that they defend the right of every South African to cast their vote in the Local Government Elections, which will be held on Monday.
The Minister was speaking at the deployment parade of police officers in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, on Sunday.
This comes as at least eight voting stations could not open for special votes on Saturday due to protests in that province.
“South Africans all have the right to protest but that right is limited. Your freedom of protest should not interfere with the next person. Therefore, if people say they don’t want to go and vote… that’s fine but they can’t say they are not going to vote and stop other people from going to vote.
“Therefore, stations will have to be opened, roads will have to be open, burning tyres will have to be doused off… Make sure that you assist South Africans… and take away any form of hurdle that wants to stop a South African from going to vote,” the Minister said.
Cele said that the at least 10 000 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers who will be joining police officers for extra security will not be deployed at voting stations.
“Our members of the [SANDF] will work on… critical infrastructure like ports and national roads, especially those plazas where people use trucks to block the national roads, the power stations and all others that are supposed to be national key points,” he said.
The Minister said police will be working more closely with the IEC to “protect the stations and help the IEC to make sure that [voting] stations are opened”.
Cele told police officers that KwaZulu-Natal in particular is important to secure, as it has seen political killings across the political spectrum in the past.
A total of 119 hotspots have been identified by government’s security forces in KwaZulu-Natal alone.
“You are in a province where you have to be doubly vigilant and in your double vigilance, you must make sure you stay out of politics and do your job. Your job is defined in the Constitution… what you do is to protect, combat and investigate [crime].
“Make sure that you come to policing and not politics, and ensure the safety and protection of all people across the board,” he said.
He warned officers to execute their duties within the confines of the law.
“You, as police officers, need to uphold the law and enforce the law. It’s important that you keep elections safe, you keep the movement of [electoral] material safe and you keep the outcomes safe, with the integrity that they deserve”. – SAnews
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