Police commit to delivering 'safe and secure' election day

Nearly 100,000 police officers will be deployed across the country on election day.

FILE: Police have been deployed in their numbers to identified hotspot areas – to ensure the polls run smoothly next week. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - Police say around 100,000 officers will be on elections duty next week securing the most fiercely-contested polls in the history of the new South Africa.

But security analysts are urging the law enforcement officials to try to cool tempers and resolve tense situations through mediation, rather than force.

Areas like Tshwane have been engulfed by violent protests, while political killings have plagued provinces like KwaZulu-Natal.

Acting National Police Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane says the police and other law enforcement agencies are ready for the elections.

"Our plans are underway and we are much closer to that big deployment. It's all systems go and we are committed to delivering a safe and secure election."

The Institute for Security Studies' Lizette Lancaster says where police intervention is required, a heavy hand risks inflaming the situation.

"Mediation should be the core priority, together with making sure that all types of leaders and community groups are consulted ahead of schedule."

Police have been deployed in their numbers to identified hotspot areas to ensure the polls run smoothly next week.

Phahlane says normal policing won't be compromised despite nearly half the police service on election duty.

He says reservists and the police's support staff will be deployed.

Phalane says more than 50,000 police officers will be on duty at voting stations across the country.

"We are going to deploy members at each and every one of those voting stations."

Others, he says, will be responsible for escorting IEC officials and ballot papers, protecting electoral staff and patrols.

"In addition to those that are static, you will have about 45,224 members who will be manning 22,612 vehicles."

Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko set up a special task team last month to investigate politically motivated crimes after the murder of a number of African National Congress (ANC) members, mostly in KwaZulu-Natal.

POLICE GRADUATES

Phahlane says all new police graduates will be deployed at various points to ensure the elections go ahead without any problems.

Nearly 2,000 new recruits from the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape graduated in Cape Town yesterday.

A further 1,600 will graduate in Pretoria today.

Phahlane says they're adequately prepared ahead of the elections.

"We have 1,926 and their first mission is to deliver a safe and secure election. Beyond elections, they will go into normal policing."

#SapsParade in CPT the saps parade is being held at the Vygieskraal stadium in Athlone. SF pic.twitter.com/AmamuMyg9B



#SapsParade The officers have successfully completed the Basic Police Development Learning Programme. SF pic.twitter.com/a3icPZgEkB

PARTIES CAMPAIGN

ANC heavyweight Baleka Mbete campaigned in Orlando and Diepkloof in Soweto.

She says the ruling party is not losing support but must listen to communities who don't feel connected to it any more.

"We see what is happening and we now know the priorities. We know exactly what our new councillors are going to do and prioritise."

At the same time, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane was in Gugulethu in the Western Cape and spoke out against political violence.

"There are other who are calling for a change of government with as barrel of a gun and I think that's' dangerous. Ballot boxes are the most powerful weapons."

IEC READY

Yesterday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said it had done all it can to ensure it delivers free and fair elections.

Over 26 million South Africans are registered to vote on 3 August.

Next week, millions of South Africans across the country will be lining up to cast their ballots.

The IEC's Sy Mamabolo said the commission is ready to deliver credible elections.

"We are declaring our total readiness to the country."

Mamabolo said the IEC had used the past year to ensure that everything is in order.

"It has been a long journey which started with the handover of the initial final wards by the Municipal Demarcation Board and it will culminate with the declaration of the results a few days after 3 August."

The IEC urged all those who have registered to vote in the upcoming local government elections to go to the polls and elect councillors who will help develop their communities.

WATCH: Young voters refuse to vote in Northern Cape

Additional reporting by Thando Kubheka.