Police ramping up in ‘high risk’ areas ahead of election

 ·20 May 2024

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) says it will ramp up police visibility in areas that have been identified as “high risk” ahead of and during the 2024 elections.

NatJoints has declared its readiness to handle any potential violence and disruptions related to the 2024 elections by closely monitoring and bolstering security at high-risk areas and voting stations, as well as keeping a watchful eye over inciteful rhetoric on social media.

This was outlined in a press conference by NatJoints, which comprises of the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the State Security Agency (SSA), on May 19th.

“We are confident that the measures that have been put in place are sufficient to ensure that the country’s upcoming general elections proceed without any incidents of crime and disruptions,” said chairperson of NatJoints, Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili.

According Mosikili, the executive management of the SAPS recently visited each province to assess their state of readiness, saying that “the work done with the respective provincial commissioners at the helm, confirms that all provinces are ready.”

The operational phase of the NatJoints cluster starts on May 22, 2024, with its Coordination Centre running until June 9, 2024.

Mosikili said that this centre, using “state of the art technology,” proactively identifies threats and vulnerabilities, serving as a central hub for coordinating information and incident reporting to ensure a swift, coordinated response to any threats.

Risk assessment

Through the Operational Intelligence Co-ordination Committee (OICC), Mosikili said that have identified “a number of high-risk voting stations and potentially volatile areas that are being monitored on an on-going basis.”

“Deployments are subsequently proportional to the level of risk identified through intensified operations, informed by thorough analysis and intelligence-based reports,” added the Lieutenant.

Mosikili stated that identified threats, such as community protests, are already being addressed, and those found to be breaking the law are being dealt, adding that “Public Order Policing Units are on the ground and ready to prevent and combat any such incidents.”

Numerous arrests related to threats and acts of electoral violence have already been made.

Additionally, NatJoints said that they have noted an increase in the number of service delivery-related protests in the run-up to the elections.

“To mitigate this, increased police visibility through the deployment of the public order policing unit has been made to potentially volatile areas to address large crowds,” said the Lieutenant.

Social media threats

“One of our biggest threats at the moment is fake news… as this seeks to cause panic and confusion, and in some instances incite possible violence,” said Mosikili, adding that those who are found to be sharing inflammatory messages and inciting violence will be charged.

People are urged to fact-check first before sharing anything on social media platforms to avoid falling on the wrong side of the law.

NatJoints calls for reporting of such incidents adding that people have already appeared in court on a charge of contravening the Riotous Assemblies Act 17 of 1956, which prohibits gatherings that could endanger public peace.

“We are making a clarion call on political leaders to be responsible in the manner in which they communicate on public platforms,” said Mosikili.

Read: The biggest social unrest risks in South Africa right now

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