South Africa News

2023 elections: NATJOINTS will have zero tolerance towards threats, intimidation & lawlessness

Sunday marks ten days before South Africans will exercise their democratic right to vote. Lieutenant General Tebello Mosikili from the chairperson of the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) led by the South African Police Service (SAPS), the South African National Defence Force and the State Security Agency, said on Sunday they are confident that the measures that have been put in place are sufficient to ensure that the general elections proceed without any incidents of crime and disruption.

“Having conducted a national security assessment with key role players in the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster (JCPS), we are satisfied with the operational plan that is currently being implemented. We can assure South Africans that a conducive environment for peaceful elections has been prepared.

“While measures have been put in place, the ultimate responsibility for safe and secure election lies with each one of us. A partnership is required to create harmony, respect for self and others as we make our way to the polls and back home.”

Provincial visits to assess state of readiness

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

It is worth noting that training of law enforcement agencies on the electoral act and other legislation in support of the 2024 national and provincial government elections has been conducted, Mosikili said.

“The operational phase will commence from Wednesday, 22 May 2024 with the activation of the NATJOINTS Coordination Centre (NCC), until 09 June 2024. The centre which is equipped with state of technology will officially be opened by the JCPS ministers on Friday, 24th May 2024.”

The centre will operate around the clock, closely monitoring the situation in the country through proactive identification of threats and vulnerabilities. “It serves as a central point of contact for coordination of information and the reporting of incidents to ensure a swift, prompt and coordinated response,” said Mosikili. “The NCC structure is mirrored at provincial level through the PROVJOINTS activated through the provincial joint operation centres.”

Risk assessment

“Working through the Operational Intelligence Co-ordination Committee (OICC), we have identified a number of high-risk voting stations and potentially volatile areas that are being monitored. Deployments are subsequently proportional to the level of risk identified through intensified operations, informed by thorough analysis and intelligence-based reports.

“Threats identified such as community protests are already being attended to and those that are found to be in contravention of the law are being dealt with. Our Public Order Policing Units are on the ground and are ready to prevent and combat any such incidents,” Mosikili warned.

She said that they are aware of social media posts calling for a shutdown by a group of truck drivers. “There will be zero tolerance towards threats, intimidation and closure of our roads. Law enforcement agencies are on high alert to ensure there are no criminal activities and that law abiding citizens are not inconvenienced. We call on the Road Freight Industry workers to communicate their grievances within the confines of the law.”

“The second phase of the elections is the period from the 27th up until the announcement of the results, and will see static deployments at voting stations, escorting of voter material and IEC staff, securing of election warehouses, transportation of voting material and the enforcement of the Electoral Act.”

Vandalism of posters

Mosikili reminded communities that the constitution provides that every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for a political party and to campaign for a political party or cause.

“With this said, we caution communities not to vandalise, deface and remove posters of political parties as this constitutes an offence. Anyone found to be tampering with these posters or vandalizing them will be arrested.”

In relation to the third phase, which is the period after election results have been officially announced, plans are already in place to police celebrations and gatherings, said Mosikili. “Preparations for the inauguration of the President are also in full swing. These celebrations and gatherings will be policed through both the SASREA and gatherings act.”

Social media disinformation

Mosikili noted that one of the biggest threats at the moment is fake news. “We strongly condemn the spreading of fake news, unverified information, rumors or threats as this seeks to cause panic and confusion, and in some instances incite possible violence.

“We urge members of the public to fact-check before sharing anything on social media platforms. Those who are found to be sharing inflammatory messages and inciting violence will be charged accordingly.”

She concluded by saying that law enforcement agencies are on the ground and will continue to apply fundamental policing principles, guided by the constitution. “Every law enforcement officer has a responsibility and an obligation to execute their mandate, professionally, impartially and with integrity, and to do so within the confines of the laws of the country.”

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