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KwaZulu-Natal transport, community safety and liaison MEC Sipho Hlomuka. Picture: SUPPLIED.
KwaZulu-Natal transport, community safety and liaison MEC Sipho Hlomuka. Picture: SUPPLIED.

More than 215 of the 4,874 Electoral Commission of SA’s (IEC) polling stations in KwaZulu-Natal have been given high-risk status after an assessment by police.

Provincial police commissioner Lt-Gen Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi was speaking at a state-of-readiness media briefing on Monday, convened by the transport, community safety and liaison MEC Sipho Hlomuka.

“These stations are in different parts of the province in all 11 districts. In the medium-risk category there are 1,064 stations,” said Mkhwanazi.

Hlomuka said the justice and security cluster had also identified the rural town of Nongoma as among the hotspots, attributing this to the recent political killings, which claimed the lives of councillors and traditional leaders in the area.

“Areas such as Nongoma will receive maximum attention. Nongoma and some parts of Zululand want to categorise themselves as no-go areas, but there is no area in the province that should be no-go,” said Hlomuka.

“We will leave nothing to chance. People must expect police visibility across the province. There will be random operations, which will include stops and searches of cars.”

Hlomuka cautioned the public not to deprive citizens of their rights to vote by closing roads and destroying properties. He cited areas such as the R74 in Muden, where a truck was torched last week, saying that that area would be given attention.

“We understand the protest was as a result of service delivery as people were without water. Any acts or threats violence and intimidation have no place in our province and will not be tolerated.”

A multiparty political intervention committee had been meeting regularly to attend to any incidents of political tension, and would continue to meet on urgent basis whenever there was a threat of political instability. This is also envisaged to help craft political actions at a district level and voting station level.

Hlomuka commended the committee and traditional leaders for playing their part in trying to build harmony ahead of the election race by educating and engaging communities about peacemaking and political tolerance.

He expressed optimism that political parties were committed to stability.

With special voting starting on May 27, Hlomuka said they would work closely with the IEC.

“We are ready. We will be working closely with IEC and other bodies observing elections.”

Hlomuka said part of the plans was to ensure voting stations, observers and IEC staff were protected.

“Voting stations and warehouses storing voting material will be protected and secured. We are assuming maturity from all the political parties."

Hlomuka said he had directed officials to ensure all road infrastructure leading to voting stations was accessible.

“We have placed our district teams on standby to respond to all weather conditions. People who voted in 1994 will notice a clear and visible change in infrastructure delivery.”

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