News / South Africa / Elections

Makhosandile Zulu
3 minute read
8 May 2019
2:23 pm

Six arrested in KZN for protests that disrupted voting stations

Makhosandile Zulu

The IEC in this year's most trouble-prone province, KZN, says four voting stations remained closed by the afternoon in Bergville due to protests.

Police are out in full force in KwaZulu-Natal. At Durban city hall (pictured) about a dozen police were present. Police minister Bheki Cele said that three of eThekwini's hotspots had been calm thus far. Photo: African News Agency (ANA)

The police in KZN said on Wednesday that six suspects had been arrested in connection with protests that led to voting stations either being opened late or not at all in the province.

KZN SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker said the police were disappointed that in some areas communities blockaded roads, which led to a delay in the processes of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

Naicker said in some areas community members started doing this as early as midnight and that in other areas debris was used to block roads.

However, he said the police had sorted out the issues, cleared the roads and deployed personnel to secure the routes.

Naicker said one suspect was arrested in Ntuzuma near Durban while five others were taken into custody in Bergville, KZN in connection with these incidents.

“We are gearing up for the afternoon session because we know from previous elections that people drink during the day and become disorderly at voting stations during the afternoon,” Naicker said.

He encouraged registered voters to go out to the polls to cast their vote.

KZN acting provincial election officer Ntombifuthi Masinga said 99% of voting stations were opened in the province, while a number of them opened late in the eThekwini municipality due to service delivery protests.

About 80 voting stations opened late in eThekwini due to the protests, she added.

Masinga said that in Umbumbulu, Adams and Folweni, Durban, those voting stations opened late due to roads being blockaded by protesters.

Trenches were dug up on roads leading to voting stations in Escort and Bergville, Masinga said, which had prompted the commission, the KZN department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs and the police to fill up those trenches.

Masinga said the protesting community of Mdoni municipality allegedly used the same modus operandi as those in Escort and Bergville, affecting three voting stations in the Okhahlamba district.

A special team of IEC officials and police had been sent to the district, she said.

Masinga appealed to communities to not infringe on others’ right to vote, adding that the commission was happy with the way the police had handled these incidents.

She further encouraged voters to head to the polls as early as possible.

Masinga confirmed that voting stations would close at 9pm today, but officials would continue to service voters still queuing after closing time, as is standard practice.

“We want to assure communities that they will not be prejudiced by voting stations opening late,” Masinga said.

Acting deputy chief electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said the situation was stable at voting stations throughout the country, with only a few exceptions.

“We do have challenges in a few voting stations. [An hour before the media briefing], 18 voting stations throughout the country were closed due to protests, while 14 of those were in KZN,” Mosery said.

However, only four voting stations in Bergville remained closed. He said the commission hoped that within an hour the voting stations in this area would be operational.

Mosery said there were sufficient ballots at voting stations countrywide.

“There has been no incident of political intolerance throughout the country,” the official added.

Masinga said that on the second day of special voting on Tuesday, 80% of the approved home visits were completed.

She said those who were not reached by IEC officials could still cast their special vote today. She encouraged voters to cast their vote where they were registered to do so.

Mosery said it was expected that by midday tomorrow all voting stations would have submitted their vote counting to the IEC Results Operating Centre.

All political parties have until Friday at 5pm to lodge any objections over vote counts.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.