Acting national police commissioner Johannes Phahlane on Wednesday cautioned community leaders and activists across South Africa to desist from making reckless statements regarding the 2016 municipal elections.
“We will continue to pursue anyone who continues to make these irresponsible statements and trying to intimidate people who want to exercise their democratic right,” Phahlane told reporters at a media briefing in Pretoria.
Regarding the arrest of community leaders from the volatile Vuwani area of Limpopo, Phahlane said more leaders may still be arrested.
“We are still pursuing the others. They were arrested because of irresponsible conduct, trying to intimidate people, saying elections are not going to take place in Vuwani. We considered that to be a violation of the law,” said Phahlane.
“We are not going to allow anyone to contravene the law with us being spectators. Those people appeared before a court and they are remanded in custody. Three of the leaders in that community are behind bars.”
Phahlane said members of the SA Police Service (SAPS) were equal to the task of ensuring peaceful and free elections.
“As we speak, over 75 000 police members have been deployed countrywide to ensure a safe and successful election process. Nationally, all departments and agencies, together with the SAPS, have deployed 279 291 personnel members,” said Phahlane.
“Over 18 government departments and agencies are performing duties with the SAPS at the National Joint Operational Centre (NATJOC) and Provincial Joint Operational Centres (PROVJOCs) across the country. This enables the NATJOINTS to be in a position, 24/7, to proactively or reactively rapidly respond to any situation or contingency at grass roots level.”
Duties being performed by police officers during the elections include static protection duties at voting stations, escorting of voting material and IEC personnel, patrolling of hot spots, investigating reported offences and the deployment of roving reaction teams comprising members of the SAPS’s most elite and highly trained units.
“Security planning to ensure a safe and secure local government election process began over a year ago, with various government departments meeting regularly with law enforcement and intelligence agencies in terms of a priority committee of the NATJOINTS,” said the police chief.