Miners protest at polling station

2011-05-18 14:50

Rustenburg - National Union of Mineworkers members protested outside the Karee Mine voting station in Marikana near Rustenburg on Wednesday.

The group ordered Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials to close the voting station until their problem had been resolved, presiding officer Aubrey Koloko said.

The workers were not happy that their branch secretary and chairman had been suspended by their union, but did not say why.

In a note handed to the IEC official, they demanded that Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi had to come and speak to them. They vowed not to vote until their leaders were reinstated.

They did not enter the premises of the voting station. No voters were present at the time. They eventually left, under the watchful eye of police officers. Nobody was arrested.

"We are coming back," they threatened, waving their knobkerries at the IEC officials.

Koloko said 11 people had voted since the station opened at 07:00.

Outgoing ward councillor Nosipho Dabe said 1 700 people were expected to vote at the Karee Mine voting station.

The ANC and DA have fielded candidates in all 38 wards of the Rustenburg municipality. Seven independent candidates are competing in six wards.

Earlier one voter, Meikie Janties, complained that it was difficult for disabled people such as herself to vote.

"I wanted to vote, but the voting station is not accessible. This infringes on my human rights as a person with a disability." Three men lifted Janties in her wheelchair to enable her to enter the voting station at the Lethabong Community Creche.

Construction workers maintaining the road had left a heap of soil in front of the gate, making it inaccessible to people in wheelchairs.

Janties said she had applied for a special vote, but was not visited by an IEC official during the two days set aside for special votes.

"I wanted to vote and I will," said Janties as she was wheeled into the voting station.

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