Classroom torched at KZN voting station over chief dispute
Police have been deployed to closely monitor the situation at the Ntobeko voting station in ward 2 of the Mkhambathini municipality in KwaZulu-Natal after a classroom was set alight on Monday morning.
The voting station is one of 128 in the province which has been identified as high-risk, after ongoing unrest by community members who have vowed not to vote unless their local chief is reinstated.
Inkhosi Skhosiphi Mdluli, of the KwaNyavu Traditional Authority, was removed by provincial government after allegations of misconduct.
Disgruntled community members then prevented eight voting stations from opening at the weekend when special votes were being conducted.
IEC Umgungundlovu District Manager Khulekani Mdadane said at about 6am they received word that a classroom at the Ntobeko voting station had been set alight.
“The classroom, which had been storing materials such as stationery, was burnt down. We do not understand why they would do this.”
He said there had been suggestions to move the voting station but it would not be possible due to the law.
“The law does not allow us to move a voting station that has been gazetted. We have decided to use another classroom and voting has resumed as police have been deployed here.”
He said plans to meet with the tribal council had failed.
“We were unable to meet and negotiate with the tribal council, so as the IEC what we have done is try to enhance security to ensure that voting runs smoothly today.”
Community members declined to comment, many citing that the issue was contentious.
Police minister Bheki Cele visited parts of the region on Sunday after heightened tensions within the province, which boasts 4,006 voting stations.
Cele said KZN was one of four provinces identified as areas of concern.