Bushbuckridge – Protests relating to different matters prevented the opening of two Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) stations in Mpumalanga on Saturday.
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Provincial IEC chairperson, Steven Ngwenya, told African Eye News Service the affected registration stations were both situated in Marite between Bushbuckridge and Hazyview.
“Our stations managed to open in time with the staff and we are ready to service people who want to come. The only challenge that I can mention involves two stations in Marite.
"We could not open because these are problems beyond our control. You might know that there are issues of ritual killing there. So, the community started fighting amongst itself,” said Ngwenya.
Ngwenya said his staff wanted to service people who went there to register, but could not endanger their lives.
“Our staff wanted to go to the stations but because of the protests we felt it safer for them not to do so. We always tell our people that they must not endanger their lives.
"So, the police are trying their best to see how can they assist us. I was trying to speak to the police official in charge and we are planning that we will open those stations. I will also go there and see how I can talk to them so the stations can open station tomorrow,” he said.
Provincial police spokesperson, Sergeant Gerald Sedibe, said the situation had calmed down in Marite. “There are stations that were not opened because people did not want to register. When IEC officials were going to open they found people attempting to block the road in the morning.
"They were burning tyres demanding that police arrest suspects that are implicated in ritual killings. We have sent police officers to monitor the situation and the police were able to restore the blocked R40 road,” said Sedibe.
Meanwhile, registrations were slow in Mbombela, with only one or two people spotted entering the Civic Centre registration station around every 20 minutes.
The chairperson said he didn’t know why the registrations were going slowly.
“I cannot have an explanation on why people are not coming in large numbers because I believe we have done our part. We have embarked on a campaign using print and electronic media, including social media platforms.
"We have done everything, but over and above we had municipal outreach campaigns including attending to schools and churches and all gatherings to ask people to come forward to register,” he said.
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