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South Africa deploys 10,000 troops to secure municipal polls

South African President and leader of the African National Congress (ANC) Cyril Ramaphosa (C) during a door-to-door campaign in Folweni township, Durban on October 9, 2021   -  
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South Africa

Ten thousand soldiers will be deployed to safeguard next week's local government elections.

Parliament announced on Wednesday that President Cyril Ramaphosa had informed the institution about the employment of soldiers in partnership with police for the establishment of a safe and secure environment during the vote.

The employment is from October 30 to November 3 and is expected to cost R47,249,000.

Early this week, the justice, crime prevention and security cluster ministers assured South Africans that next week's local government elections would be safe and free. Defence minister Thandi Modise said police would be deployed at all voting stations and the result centres.

“We can confidently declare today that all safety and security measures have been put in place to create a conducive environment for free and fair elections starting from October 30 and 31 from 8 am to 5 pm for the special votes and on November 1 for normal elections.

“All relevant security-aligned departments within the three spheres of government have worked tirelessly, in a continuous and coordinated manner, to ensure we deliver successful local government elections. As a cluster, we want to assure the public that all areas will be accessible for all citizens to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” said Modise.

She said the cluster had identified hotspots for violence and would deploy police accordingly.

“Furthermore, members of the SA Police Service will be deployed at the provincial results centres to ensure the integrity of the finalisation of the results,” she said.

The deployment of the police, the army and other law-enforcement agencies will be determined and guided by structured threat analysis and crime patterns.

“Over and above the physical deployments of SAPS officers at voting districts, reserve forces from the police are on standby to provide additional assistance should the need arise in and around the identified hotspot areas.

“To this end, security measures have been put in place to ensure the safety and security of voters, IEC officials, role players, equipment, resources, voting stations and the public,” she said.

Modise said SANDF members were on standby to be deployed in support of the police and the IEC should a need arise. Their key responsibility would be protecting national key points and other strategic installations, she said.

Her police colleague Bheki Cele said four provinces — KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape — were regarded as hotspots for violence ahead of the elections.

Kwazulu Natal and Gauteng were the epicenters of violence and looting in July, prompted by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuma for contempt of court. 

Over 95,000 candidates are taking part in Monday's election in which 26 million people are eligible to vote.

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