Voters feel ‘intimidated’ at Northdale’s ward 31

2011-05-19 00:00

ALLEGATIONS of intimidation em-erged from ward 31 in Northdale, where the ANC’s candidate is Muhammad Khan, who some voters said was escorting voters to the polling booths and telling them how to vote.

Ward 31 is one of the biggest wards under the Msunduzi Municipality. The Witness received complaints from voters at the Northdale Civic Centre voting station, where roughly 3 500 voters were expected to cast their ballots.

“It is not fair. I feel that my rights are being violated as a voter. And if you express your unhappiness, they want to fight with you. As far as I’m concerned, they should be disqualified,” a frustrated voter said.

Both the Democratic Alliance candidate in the ward, Rooksana Ahmed and an independent candidate claimed to have been verbally intimidated by Khan.

“Voting has been very turbulent. People are supposed to enjoy the privilege to vote freely and fairly without being harassed. But here they are being dragged to vote. It means that all our hard work doesn’t count if this is how elections are run,” said Ahmed.

She alleged that a party agent had been told by Khan to pack up and go home.

Other claims were that people not registered to vote were brought in to vote.

However, Khan denied the allegations.

He said as a candidate, he had a right to walk into any station to check that things were running smoothly. He said he made the presiding officer aware of those voters who were elderly, disabled or sickly from time to time.

But he described all the other allegations as “nonsense” and “cheap stories”.

By late afternoon , the DA’s Mark Steele was satisfied that things were under control when contacted by The Witness. Steele said he went to the polling station and spoke to the responsible officials as well as police, who had not been well positioned to observe what was going on. Voters interviewed later in the day said they were happy that they were able to vote without a hitch.

In Copesville, people waiting in long queues resorted to shoving, worried they wouldn’t get a chance to vote.

When The Witness arrived at Copesville Secondary School people were seen pushing each other

There were also allegations that certain people were prevented from voting.

“Indian voters are pushed aside to allow black people to vote for the benefit of the ANC,” a voter said.

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