An election KwaZulu-Natal can be proud of

2014-05-08 00:00

Were there any tragedies?

Sadly, yes.

An unidentified woman died after she was knocked down by a car outside a voting station near Smero, outside Pietermaritzburg. She was taken to Edendale Hospital by the KZN Emergency Medical Services but died a short while later.

KZN EMS deployed an additional 51 emergency vehicles to respond to election-related incidents yesterday.

By 4 pm they had attended to 15 cases across the province, including five car crashes.

In all, 35 patients were treated, mostly for pre-existing medical conditions.

Was there any other crisis?

Not really, but the Independent Electoral Commission was forced to print an additional 300 000 ballot papers to ensure voting stations did not run out of voting material after voters chose not to vote where they had registered. Instead, they sought out voting stations with shorter queues. The problem was experienced mainly in Msunduzi and eThekwini, especially Chatsworth.

Did all voting stations open on time?

Yes, pretty much, according to the IEC, which said that by 9 am, 95% of all voting stations throughout the country were open and operating on schedule.

The IEC reported that nationwide only a “handful” of voting stations experienced delays in opening.

Some reasons were the late arrival of staff and security; late delivery of some voting material; and delays in unlocking buildings where voting was scheduled to take place.

In one instance, a boat that was needed to transport staff across a river to their station arrived late.

The ANC said it was encouraged by the “throngs of people who began to form lines at dawn and patiently waited for the stations to open at 7 am”.

In the Uthukela District someone put padlocks on one of the voting stations, causing electoral officials to battle to access the polling station. Four voting stations in Maphumulo Municipality’s Ward 4 opened a bit late after electoral officers feared service delivery protests when potential protesters were seen hanging around the access road to a voting station.

The Witness received one complaint from a voter in Pietermaritzburg who said the Dutch Reformed Church in Pelham was unsuitable for disabled people to vote at. Des Morgan, who went there with a disabled person, said they’d had to climb several stairs with great difficulty.

Were voters intimidated?

The only report of alleged intimidation was at the Mandlanzini voting station in Empangeni, where the ANC said people used a loud hailer in the morning telling people not to vote.

Did it matter that the ink faded?

One Pietermaritzburg man called The Witness yesterday to say he used a “tiny bit of Jik” to wipe his thumb mark off. The man, who asked not to be identified, said when he arrived back from his voting station at Heather Secondary School, he thought he would see if the ink could be removed.

“In seconds it was gone. There is not even a smudge left. It’s absolutely shocking. I am taking my wife to vote at a different voting station just now, and I could vote again if I wanted to. I wouldn’t though, because that would be unChristian.”

But the IEC said some of their officials could have used a temporary marker instead of the permanent ink that was supposed to have been used. They said this did not pose a major problem because every voters’ identity document was scanned and stamped and so a person would not be able to vote more that once. The voters’ roll was also used to check whether a person had voted.

Was there a shortage of voting material?

The eThekwini Municipality experienced problems with the provision of stamps for ballot papers at four voting stations.

The electoral officers had to wait for the stamps to be delivered before the voting process started.

Did service delivery protests affect the casting of votes?

No problems were experienced in Nsuze near Ndwedwe.

On Monday, residents had blocked roads, but the area was quiet yesterday.

Elections also went well in Richards Bay following the torching of a community hall that was to be used as polling station on Tuesday.

Were there arrests for election-related offences?

As many as 97 people have been arrested for election-related crimes across KZN and 131 cases registered, the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (Natjoints) said yesterday.

Were people turned away from voting stations?

Many voters wearing party T-shirts were turned away at some voting stations. This was despite only candidates, party agents and journalists being barred from wearing party regalia at voting stations. However, the IEC did not want to apportion blame.

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