Eligible and registered voters were reported to be making their way to their voting stations in response to the call to update the voters’ roll
Despite a voting station tent being stolen overnight, it was smooth sailing for the Electoral Commission (IEC)’s voter registration and address update campaign in the Northern Cape this weekend.
More than 73 000 election officials manned some 22 600 voting stations across the country to register new voters and to allow already registered voters to check and update their address details in preparation for the national and provincial elections next year.
Eligible and registered voters were reported to be making their way to their voting stations in response to the call to update the voters’ roll.
At the Lerato Park voting station, IEC officials arrived on Saturday morning to find that the entire tent, that was erected on Friday, had been stolen overnight.
This forced officials to erect a small gazebo and registrations and updates were conducted through the open door of a minibus, parked next to it.
This did not deter voters from making sure their details were updated in anticipation of the 2019 general elections.
One voter, Diana Molifi, made sure her name and address were correctly noted on the voters’ roll and said that she still believed her vote would “make a difference”.
Felicity Stout was also at the Lerato Park voting station updating her information to “make sure nothing can go wrong on voting day”.
While a date for next year’s general elections has not been announced, it is expected to take place between May and August 2019.
The IEC yesterday expressed its appreciation to political leaders, parties, the media and other stakeholders who have “raised awareness of the registration weekend and the importance of a reliable, accurate and up-to-date voters’ roll for free and fair elections”.
The IEC did, however, add that in a handful of isolated areas a small number of voting stations around the country were unable to open on time or were forced to close shortly after opening due to a range of incidents.
“The most common of these was due to community protests which used the high profile of the voter registration activities to draw attention to their grievances and in some instances blockaded staff and voters from reaching the voting stations or conducting registrations,” the IEC said.
In Katlehong in Gauteng, seven voting stations in ward 55 were impacted by on-going community protests over the installation of pre-paid electricity meters.
In Nthabankulu in the Eastern Cape community residents stopped the activities in voting stations until the mayor and councilor arrived to address their grievances.
In Wonderkop in the North West province residents were engaged in service delivery protests, while in Tongaat in Ethekwini in KwaZulu-Natal community protesters threatened landlords of venues used by the Electoral Commission forcing staff to set up gazebos to continue their work.
In QwaQwa and Harrismith in the Free State protesting residents demolished tents erected as temporary voting stations, including burning one tent, while protesting residents forced police to evacuate election staff for their own saftety in Denoon in the Western Cape.
Protesters torched a tent in Harrismith, while one was stolen in Kroonstad in the Free State.
Other incidents reported during the registration process included two accidents involving election personnel on their way to open voting stations. In both incidents the staff members were hospitalised, one with minor injuries and one with more serious injuries.
The only incident noted in the Northern Cape was the stolen tent in Lerato Park.