Violent protests hamper Limpopo voting

2014-05-06 18:02

Police have been called in to calm violent protests that halted the casting of special votes in eight voting stations in Maruleng, Limpopo, after Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials working there were threatened with violence.

IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya condemned the violent threats and assured the public that the commission would do everything in its power to ensure that special voting, which was set down for yesterday and today, continues there tomorrow.

Moepya said while hot spots had significantly decreased ahead of tomorrow’s elections, there were still a number of areas that remained a “challenge”.

By early this morning, 21 000 of the 44 000 special votes, which had been approved for voters in KwaZulu-Natal, had been completed.

The commission has decided to extend voting hours for special votes beyond 5pm today to ensure that everyone got a chance to cast their ballots.

Special votes are reserved for those who can prove they will not be in the country on voting day and voters who are immobile and are usually visited at their homes to cast their votes.

Read: Hijack victim votes ‘for peace’

Moepya said the police were also investigating a case in KwaThema, near Joburg, where an ANC party agent and an IEC official illegally kept election material at a house near a temporary voting station.

Moepya said they had suspended and replaced the IEC official and investigations were continuing.

He said two ballot papers that were cast at the KwaThema temporary voting station were affected and have been quarantined. The IEC would make a decision on whether to include them in the count.

Deputy chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said the IEC was “disheartened” by the conduct of the party agent and the official.

Moepya said the IEC had also resolved a dispute with ambassadors who could not gain entry into the IEC national results operation centre this morning after they were not accredited.

Unlike precious elections, accreditation for embassies and high commissions has been limited to one accreditation an embassy and this has angered many diplomats.

Read: SA limits diplomatic observers during elections

But the matter has since been resolved with the help of the department of international relations and cooperation, to allow all diplomatic guests entry into the results centre.

Moepya said there were two cases before the Electoral Court: one brought by seven prisoners who wanted to have the elections postponed because they did not have identity documents to vote tomorrow and another brought by an Andre Lotter who wants the elections postponed, arguing that commissioners are not fit to run elections.

Moepya will brief the media tomorrow on the outcome of the two cases.

The IEC said it had also received 15 327 completed ballots cast internationally from 77 of the 116 countries where international voting took place. More ballots are expected to arrive later today.

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