Sterkspruit votes under soldiers’ watchful eyes

2014-05-07 09:12

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It’s quiet in Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape – so quiet that the soldiers and police sent in to keep the area safe started their day by voting alongside residents.

The small town on the border of South Africa and Lesotho has been hit by violent protests in the past year with residents demanding an independent municipality.

The Sterkspruit Civic Association, which has led the protest against authorities, insists that corruption is rampant at the Senqu municipality. It had previously threatened to boycott the polls.

But this morning all was calm in Sterk, as the town is nicknamed by its community.

Police officers and the military patrolled the streets, then joined queues to cast their votes.

All the town’s businesses were closed.

This heavy security presence and the precautionary closure of businesses followed the torching of a voting station on Sunday night.

But that station, at Ekuzoleni Senior Secondary School, opened with no hassles at 7am.

One of the first voters, local businessman Ian Sanders Matter, said: “It was exciting to vote. I enjoyed it, I just wish life could get back to normal now. We had to close down businesses here from Monday because of the security risk. It’s bad for our business, but I am happy that at least I voted today.”

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