EWN 07 May 2019

DURBAN – The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said on Tuesday special voting officials were caught in a shooting incident at a voting station in Weenen in central KwaZulu-Natal after it was closed on Monday night.

“We were concerned with the shooting incident in Weenen where our staff were caught up, but staff were escorted [and] fortunately it happened after voting time,” acting provincial electoral officer Ntombifuthi Masinga said.

Masinga was, however, optimistic that security would not be a problem on Wednesday.

Despite Masinga’s reassurances, security remained a concern in KwaZulu-Natal and the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) was expected to be deployed to guard strategic infrastructure.

MEC for public safety Thomas Kaunda said the security cluster requested army support after assessing the risk posed mainly by service delivery demonstrations.

On Monday, police provincial spokesperson Jay Naicker said in their view, the army was not trained for public order policing.

However, the province changed this position later on Monday.

“The additional reinforcement by the SANDF is also coming to the province, some of them have started to arrive,” Kaunda said: adding that the move was to ensure that voting would be free and without intimidation.

Naicker said the decision was reached after assessing the risk posed by protests.

“They’re being deployed to guard key strategic infrastructure in the province.”

The province said it had intelligence to pre-empt protests and all parts of the province would be secured for voting to proceed without incident

THREATS OF PROTESTS

Kaunda has appealed to communities threatening to protest in the province to exercise patience and allow voting to proceed smoothly on Wednesday.

He said his justice and crime prevention cluster would deal with illegal activity and he assured the 5.5 million registered voters in the province that they could exercise their right without hindrance

“We’ve also looked at the issues of ensuring that the police detect these public protests before they happen because we’re not a government that must always respond after people have burnt tyres.

“Therefore, it is imperative for law enforcement agencies to consolidate the plans which they presented yesterday and we’re convinced that the province will be stable even today and during elections tomorrow.”

Of the 70,000 approved home visits in the province, 42,000 were conducted on Monday but officials found some voters were not home.

And of the 30,000 approved walk-ins, 12,000 had voted.

“We are quite confident that we will catch up with the numbers,” Masinga said.

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