While we may all heave a sigh of relief that the elections have come and gone with little or no change to our everyday life, we need to take cognisance of the fact that there are always loose ends to be tied after a mammoth event such as this.
The big news has to do with the protests that engulfed the northern Johannesburg township of Alexandra starting on the day after the election. After some Inkatha Freedom Party members saw a ward councillor loading some ballot boxes and driving away, they allegedly held some Independant Electoral Commission and ANC officials hostage. This led to sporadic inter-party clashes that ended up drawing into its ugly fangs the police. In an attempt to quell the simmering political cauldron, the police were accused of using live ammunition. While the police have denied any knowledge of this, it has not helped matters and the army had to be called in to put in place a semblance of order. A confirmed total of fifty nine residence of the township were arrested and taken into custody.
On Sunday, there were reports of some buildings belonging to the council and some councillor(s) having been burnt. Commenting on the situation, one police officer who declined to be named said that it was quiet but tense. By Saturday afternoon, there were still police on the streets of Alexandra as the threat of violence was still hanging in the air. The army was also said to be on standby in case the violence reared its ugly head again.
There were several other incidents of violence related to elections but these were, however, isolated incidents. In Volsloorus, police are investigating the shooting of an Economic Freedom Fighter. Police spokesman Brigadier Neville Malila confirmed that the police were investigating the killing of a resident who was shot four times outside his home in the early hours of Saturday. He could, however, not be drawn into commenting about the motive and the political affiliation of the deceased despite the fact that when he was killed, he had just attended a party meeting and had been wearing his party’s trademark beret.
In a separate incident, an ANC supporter was also killed in KwaDukuza in KwaZulu Natal province. According to the ANC national spokesman, Jackson Mthembu, the deceased was killed by a member of an opposition party while sitting at a party desk outside the Lindelani voting station. In agreement, the KwaZulu Natal police spokesman, Captain Thulani Zwane added that the police had not established the motive of the attack and said that investigations had been instituted.
While several other cases of politically related cases of violence have been reported, some of them fatal, these are mainly isolated cases which cannot be used to judge the poll. This was said by the manager of the a Crime and Justice Information Hub, Lizette Lancaster. Speaking on behalf of her company’s mother body, The Institute of Security Studies, Lancaster said that the violence has shifted from conflict between rival political parties to service conflicts and added that, if not addressed, these would spill over to the 2016 Local Government Elections.