Voter registration in some parts of SA marred by protests

26 January 2019 - 17:48
By Belinda Pheto
Voter registration was interrupted by protests in some parts of the country.
Image: RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP Voter registration was interrupted by protests in some parts of the country.

Sporadic community protests affected the opening and operations of several voting stations around the country on Saturday morning.

In a statement, the electoral commission said some voting stations were unable to open on time due to access to the stations being prevented by protest action, including the barricading of roads.

The commission’s spokesperson, Kate Bapela, said approximately 140 voting stations (0.6%) around the country didn’t open due to community protests.

Areas where community protests were reported included:

  • Eastern Cape: Amahlati; Mbizana; Thabankulu
  • Free State: Bloemfontein (Khayelitsha)
  • Gauteng: Tshwane (Mooiplaas; Pienaarspoort); Ekurhuleni (Kathlehong; Boksburg; Sebokeng); West Rand (Munsieville); Johannesburg (Lawley; Ivory Park)
  • KwaZulu-Natal: Ulundi; uMsunduzi; Ndwedwe;
  • Limpopo: Elias Motsoaledi; Polokwane; Ramamabolo; Giyani; 
  • Mpumalanga: Gert Sibande; Sekunda; Bushbuckridge
  • North West: Rustenburg
  • Northern Cape: Dikgatlhong
  • Western Cape: Gugulethu

Police spokesperson, Captain Kay Makhubele, said Gauteng police had arrested two men and two women earlier today for public violence as they were trying to stop people from entering a voting station. Makhubele said the four will appear in court soon.

The commission has urged all South Africans to make use of the final opening of voting stations this weekend to register and update addresses for the upcoming national and provincial elections.

“Our contact centre is experiencing high call volumes which we are efficiently handling. So far, we received 2,700 calls, 300 social media queries and 200 e-mails since 8am,” the commission said in a statement.

The IEC also said the inclement weather conditions in most provinces had affected access to voting stations.

“In particular, voting stations located in tents were affected by strong winds and heavy rains in the eastern Free State, parts of Gauteng, the coastal regions of KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Limpopo,” the commission said.

Despite the minimal interferences, the commission said reports from its provincial operations confirmed the opening of approximately 99% of the 22,925 voting stations on time and a steady stream of eligible voters visiting stations to register and update their registration details.