IEC tape around a voting station. (File)
Government has welcomed "the smooth start" to the national and provincial elections.
"Millions of South Africans have already cast their vote, affirming that our democracy remains strong and vibrant," Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) spokesperson Phumla Williams said in a statement on Wednesday.
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"We are encouraged that, apart from a few exceptions, voting stations around the country started on time, and issues are being addressed as they arise. The South African Police Service, supported by the South African National Defence Force and Metro Police Officers are deployed throughout the country. We commend them for their hard work and dedication.
"The vibrant atmosphere at voting stations around the nation is encouraging and we are confident that these elections will build on our history of holding regular, peaceful, and free and fair elections," Williams said.
Government joined the IEC in encouraging South Africans to keep making their way to voting stations throughout the day. It also commended voters for the dignity and patience with which they were conducting themselves.
As part of the control measures, every ballot paper has to have a validation stamp at the back. The GCIS encouraged voters to ensure that their national and provincial ballot was stamped.
"Government wishes to convey our deepest sympathy to the family and loved ones of the IEC official who passed away last night, and of the 67-year-old man who died in Tshwane while making his way to a voting station. We also wish to express condolences to the IFP after one of their members passed away in a car crash in KwaZulu-Natal," Williams said.
Elderly voters were encouraged to approach electoral officers at their voting stations so that they could be helped to the front of the queue.
"To avoid medical emergencies, voters joining queues are advised to take precautions, such as drinking water to remain hydrated, and should take their prescription medicines."
News24 earlier reported that the Department of Home Affairs had extended its office hours and would be open from 07:00 until 21:00 on Wednesday, when voting stations close."Government reiterates its call that, even though voting stations are open until 21:00, voters should take advantage of this public holiday to visit voting stations earlier and throughout the day to avoid bottlenecks near closing time. South Africans who have not yet voted are encouraged to make their way to their voting stations," Williams said.
"Government encourages all South Africans, especially young and first-time voters, to exercise their democratic right to vote. We call on all South Africans to honour our history and continue to strengthen the legitimacy of our democracy."
Find everything you need to know about the 2019 National and Provincial Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections. Make sure your News24 app is updated to access all our elections coverage in one place.