Woman, 102, 'refused special vote'
Grahamstown - A 102-year-old artist Dorothy "Dimmie" Randell had to climb the steps to the Rhodes theatre polling station to vote in the local government elections in Grahamstown after the Independent Electoral Commission refused to let her cast a special vote at home.
The Daily Dispatch reported on Thursday that Randell had to be assisted by Makana Independent New Deal (Mind) candidate Jock McConnachie as she made her way up the steps to the polling station at the theatre.
McConnachie is standing as a Mind candidate councillor in nearby Ward 8.
McConnachie told the Dispatch that the IEC had not allowed Randell to cast a special vote at her home as she now resided just outside the ward in which she was registered.
He said this was "ridiculous" and "nonsensical".
"Some boundaries have changed. How on earth could the IEC expect that a 102-year-old woman should know she had to go and register in a different ward," he asked.
While Randell said she found the entire process "very tiring", she was pleased that she had been able to vote.
The East London-born Randell was Rhodes University’s first-ever Fine Art graduate and went on to become a famous painter and sculptor.
Randall was not the only elderly voter to be turned away.
Community activist Mary Knowling, 87, well-known for her community spirit and acts of kindness was almost turned away from the Rhodes theatre.
The IEC had split the polling station’s roll alphabetically and those whose surnames began with A to M had to vote 100m away at the nearby Rhodes Great Hall.
Knowling, who had already walked all the way from her nearby home, leaned heavily on her crutch and charmed IEC staff into allowing her to vote at the theatre.
"I am not trundling up that hill," she said.
Rhodes campus which, for the first time has been demarcated as a stand-alone municipal ward, is being fought by all political parties and independent candidates.
ANC candidate and well-known historian Jeff Peires said the ward results would be too close to call, but he feared that people would still vote along "racial lines".
The African National Congress finished third in this area in the last general election, behind the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People.