South African Police Minister Bheki Cele has beefed up security in the country’s hotspots to ensure conducive environment for Monday’s secure local government elections, with 18,000 police officers deployed in the troubled KwaZulu-Natal province alone during the exercise.Speaking at the deployment parade of police officers in Durban on Sunday, Cele said the security was required after eight councillor candidates from various parties died during the campaign period and that eight voting stations could not open for special votes on Saturday and Sunday due to protests in the province.
KwaZulu Natal was the scene of deadly riots that left over 300 people dead in July following the arrest of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court when he failed to appear before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
“All South Africans have the right to protest but that right is limited. Your freedom of protest should not interfere with the next person,” the minister said.
He added: “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.”
The minister told the police officers that polling stations would “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,” Cele said.
In addition to the 18,000 cops, Cele said that some 10,000 troops from the South African National Defence Force will join the police officers for extra security.
However, they will not be deployed at voting stations, he added.
“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.