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Women, children protest voting in Springs

2014-05-07 14:03
Johannesburg - Some 70 women and children protested over living conditions in Evergreen Informal Settlement in Springs on Wednesday as other people queued to vote at the local polling station.

"Buya, Buya Nelson Mandela [come back Nelson Mandela]," they shouted as police urged them to go and vote.

With more people at the settlement's communal water taps than at the voting stations, they toyi-toyied and ran away whenever police approached them.

Two placards read: "No vote today".

The group of about 70 included children as young as 13, while men stood on the side of the road a small distance away.

The women said the government was "not doing anything for them" and was not providing toilets or running water.

A policeman with a loudhailer implored them to go and vote saying: "Today is a day for elections".


He said they should protest on another day, as they were not currently voting for ward councillors.

Political branding was not seen on T-shirts worn nor placards they carried.

Voting began shortly before 10:00 after State Security Minister Siyabonga Cwele urged people at the East Rand township to allow delayed voting to go ahead.

Earlier, there was a delay because Word of God church pastor Mandla Mdluli would only allow the IEC use of the organisation's tent if it was assured the church would be paid back if the tent was damaged or torched.

This was after last-minute talks for permission to use the tent at the polling station until the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) brought its own.

Surrounded by bodyguards, armed police and Ekurhuleni metro policemen carrying batons, Cwele told people the church's tent would be used until the IEC brought other tents.

A group of about 100 people swore at Cwele, shouting things like: "The police will shit themselves today".

As Cwele left, the group shouted that they wanted the release of people arrested during protests in the area since Monday, which they said included women and children.

Stonings and protests had also taken place on Tuesday night, according to people in the group.

The church's tent was pitched among the shacks that make up the settlement, east of Johannesburg.

It was not immediately clear why the IEC could not erect its own tent or why these concerns had not been addressed sooner.

Shortly before 10:30 the IEC had erected banners on the church's tent and voting began.

On Monday, a Transnet building in the neighbouring Gugulethu settlement was torched by protesters and 46 people later arrested for public violence.

* How long were you in the queue? Report the time by clicking here.

All voting stations should be open from 07:00 and close at 21:00.

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Read more on: iec  |  johannesburg  |  elections 2014

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