IEC: Bekkersdal stations to re-open

2013-11-09 20:31
People take part in a protest in Bekkersdal. (<a href=\\\\\\\\><b>Theresa Taylor</b></a>, Twitter)

People take part in a protest in Bekkersdal. (Theresa Taylor, Twitter)

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Pretoria - Voter registration stations in Bekkersdal, on the West Rand, will be re-opened on Saturday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said.

"All of the stations that were disrupted will be functional before the end of the day, in the majority of instances," IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya said in Pretoria.

"They will certainly be functional for the rest of the day tomorrow [Sunday]," he said.

Due to threats of violence, some IEC staff were withdrawn and would be replaced, he said.

"Where we had to replace staff, that replacement will be completed today and we will have... [people] working there tomorrow," he said.

"Where our staff have withdrawn, in some instances it was because of the intimidation."

Earlier, the IEC said seven voting stations had been closed in Bekkersdal.

"Seven stations have temporarily closed," Gauteng IEC official Masego Sheburi said at the time.

"[The stations] were forced to close because of activities in the vicinity of the stations. [We are]... making efforts to re-open them today still."

Sheburi said five stations were still operational.

No IEC officials were injured, he said.

Earlier it was reported that Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa had advised IEC officials to close their stations immediately due to high tension in the area.

He reportedly made the announcement during a walk-about.

Mthethwa denied advising that the stations to be closed, saying the report was misleading and unprofessional.

Mnisi said the national joint operational and intelligence structure had confirmed that all polling stations in Bekkersdal were operating smoothly.

According to reports, an angry mob had torched a municipal building and barricaded roads.

The mob was also reportedly intimidating community members wanting to register for the 2014 general election.

Police spokesperson Captain Jabulani Kundethe said at the time that there were only three "distractions" in the morning as stations prepared to open.

"Police took control of it," he said. Kundethe did not clarify what the distractions were.

Violent protests erupted in the township outside Westonaria several weeks ago, with people demanding better service delivery and the removal of their mayor. The protests were suspended last Sunday to allow government time to investigate residents' grievances.

At the time, residents set government buildings alight and children writing exams were taken out of school.

Residents reportedly said they would not allow the IEC into the area unless Gauteng Premier Nomvula Mokonyane apologised for comments she made during a recent visit to the area.

Last month Mokonyane apparently told protesters in Bekkersdal, who did not want her to address them, that the African National Congress did not need their "dirty votes".

Mokonyane said in a statement on Friday: "Given the situation currently and in the best interest of peace and stability, I really would want to apologise to those who may believe, or who were made to believe that I made such attacks to the residents of Bekkersdal."

Read more on:    iec  |  johannesburg  |  elections 2014

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