PRETORIA – Voting in the tightly-contested local government elections got off to a smooth and timely start with strong voter turnouts recorded at many stations, the Electoral Commission of South Africa said on Wednesday.
“The vast majority of of the country’s 22,612 voting stations reported being open on time at 7am and that voting was flowing smoothly,” IEC chairperson Vumana Glen Mashinini told reporters at the national results operations centre in Tshwane.
“The Electoral Commission is particularly encouraged that many voting stations reported strong turnouts from early in the day with many voters already waiting to vote before the 7am opening.”
Mashinini said the situation was reported as calm and voting was underway in areas identified as potential hotspots in the run-up to the elections. These included Vuwani, Limpopo; Emfuleni and Midvaal in Gauteng; and Umzimkhulu in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Isolated reports of unrest and community protests affecting the start of voting were only received from a few wards in the Eastern Cape – including some voting districts in Ward 16 in Ntabankulu, and some voting districts in Ward 8 in Amathole,” said Mashinini.
“Security forces had been deployed to ensure voting could start as soon as possible in these areas.”
He said delays were reported in a small percentage of voting stations due to a variety of circumstances including tents being flattened by strong winds overnight in the Free State (Qwa-qwa) and Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the Eastern Cape and the late arrival of election staff and voting materials in a few voting stations.
“Four motor vehicle accidents involving election staff were reported early today but no-one was seriously injured in any of the incidents,” said Mashinini.
“Sadly voting was interrupted at a voting station in Strydenberg in the Northern Cape when a voter died at the voting station. Police on the scene were dealing with the incident.”
The IEC said the cause of death appeared to be natural but police were yet to ascertain this.
Voting will continue throughout the day until 7pm tonight when voting stations close. Voters who are at the voting station or in a queue at 7pm will be allowed to vote.