IEC (Duncan Alfreds, News24)
Five hours into voting day, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has announced that five voting stations have yet to open in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape due to community unrest.
The IEC's Masego Shiburi said, despite interventions by security agencies and the commission itself, two stations in the Eastern Cape and three in KwaZulu-Natal remained closed.
In the Eastern Cape, one voting station in Buffalo City and one in Ntabankulu remained closed, while in KwaZulu-Natal, the IEC had been unable to open three voting stations in the Inkosi Langalibalele municipality, in the uThukela District. In Nelson Mandela Bay, 15 temporary stations had to be relocated due to inclement weather.
"We have communities that are unhappy about service delivery and they are protesting and they have caused stations to open and close. We are working together with security agencies to ensure property of people and bodily integrity of people are preserved. As soon as we have restored calm, those stations will be open," IEC chief operations officer Sy Mamabolo told journalists during a media briefing at the results centre on Wednesday.
The IEC has also had a challenge in Vuwani, Limpopo, where four stations had to temporarily close due to "community unrest".
Shiburi said these four stations were later reopened.
"The electoral commission is saddened by the lack of respect for democracy and the rights of others in these limited areas and once again calls on these communities to put the national interest of the country above narrow interest of the community at least for today," Shiburi said.
A shortage of ballot papers at some voting stations was also reported by the IEC, however, Shiburi said the commission was able to implement distribution plans to affected areas.
He said some of the stations that were affected by the shortage were in Cape Town. This was because some were issued fewer ballots than they were entitled to.
"We issued instructions to have more ballots distributed. There will not be any shortage of ballots."
READ: IEC disputes reports it has run out of ballot papers at some Gauteng voting stations
To counter any challenges related to a shortage, he said the IEC had printed 52 million ballots, more than the number of voters.
"The accounting of those ballots will happen in each station. When they open and when they close. The ones issued, the ones cancelled. That happened in the presence of party agents," he added.
The commission refused to give an estimate voter turnout, only saying that this would only be done after voting.
Mamabolo cautioned South Africans against double voting, saying that those found to be doing so would be prosecuted. He said there had been attempts by some people to consciously and actively remove the ink on their thumbs.
"We want to call upon SA to desist from that attempt because we do not wish this to be about prosecutions."
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