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Wednesday, May 8, 2019

South Africa takes to polls

SOUTH Africa’s sixth democratic elections is under way with over 22.9 million voters expected to cast their ballots at 22 924 voting stations.

On Tuesday, the IEC said voting stations were “poised and ready” for the polls, which will see a record 48 political parties contest for power, particularly in the country’s economic powerhouses, the Western Cape and Gauteng. There were concerns that violent protests could erupt in KwaZulu-Natal, North West and Limpopo.

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said police were quick to intervene in instances where protest actions continued. “A minimum of two police officers will be deployed to each voting station and the police will remain on high alert in high-risk areas to ensure no disruptions to the elections. Mamabo reminded citizens that any disruptions to elections constitute a criminal offence.

There have been fear of disruptions in Limpopo, particularly in Vhuwani, and some parts of Kwazulu Natal and North West.

Mamabolo also said that the IEC will start counting special votes on the 9th of May from 113 of the 121 foreign missions, which were cast by voters abroad on April 27. The Eastern Cape and the North West Province had the highest number of home visits and additional resources had to be provided by electoral commission.

In his election message Ramaphosa said: “We ask every candidate and party agent to help ensure a free, fair and peaceful election. Let us all go and vote for a better tomorrow. “Let us vote for a better future and determine our country’s future”.

National Police Commissioner Khehla Sitole yesterday visited various parts of the North West after protests surged in which some IEC officials were targeted. Six people were arrested on Monday after torching an electoral officer’s vehicle in Ganyesa, outside Vryburg. 

In Ikageng, outside Potchefstroom, angry protesters set alight a ballot box which was kept in a voting tent for special votes. Sitole said that 8000 police officers will be deployed to monitor the situation during this election period.

Story by Mfanelo Dlamini 

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