Elderly voters make their mark

2019-05-09 15:02
Khathi Ngcobo (72) and his wife Hleziphi (67) voted in Elandskop on Wednesday. They voted in the country’s first democratic elections

Khathi Ngcobo (72) and his wife Hleziphi (67) voted in Elandskop on Wednesday. They voted in the country’s first democratic elections (Ian Carbutt)

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Wednesday’s voting saw even the frail and elderly make their way to their voting stations. 

While some were in good health, others struggled along with walking sticks or had a helping hand.

Elderly couple Khathi Ngcobo (72) and his wife Hleziphi (67), walked out hand-in-hand from the KwaMakwanyane voting station in Elandskop after casting their votes.

The couple, who have voted together in every election since 1994, said they were hopeful that their votes would bring about the much-needed change for the country.

“The only noticeable improvement so far is that we are no longer oppressed, but the rest remains the same. There are still no jobs and our people are still living in poverty,” said Khathi.

At Howick, another elderly voter, Sylvia Stretton-Barry (88), was assisted by IEC officials to cast her vote in the comfort of her car.

“The treatment I received was very kind and helpful. It shows that everyone’s vote is important,” she said.

Lorne Wray (73), who voted in Bisley, said she has voted ever since she immigrated from England in 1977.

“It is essential to vote. There is no use moaning and getting cross about everything if we don’t do our bit,” she said.

Wray added that people protest and burn buildings to try and get a message across. They think doing this will bring about change.

“Voting is the one legal unhurtful way to make a change,” she said.

Lorne Wray (73) said that voting does bring about change.

Her 78-year-old friend from Boughton, who accompanied her and only wanted to be referred to as Helena Mary-Anne, said that everything in the country is a mess and voting will bring about change.

Both women said they had expected to see long queues at their voting stations, but did not.

Mary-Anne admitted she was planning to use her “disability” to get her to the front of the queue. She walked with the aid of crutches while Wray had a broken hand.

She reminisced that one year, she was ushered to the front, without even saying anything, because of her crutches.

Another year she skipped the queue because of her “grey hair”, she said.

Austin Marshal (90) and his companion Johanna Hattingh (74), who voted at the Pelham Primary School, said they have been voting ever since they were allowed to vote. They both encouraged people to vote.

Hattingh said: “What will happen to the country if no one votes?”

Austin Marshal (90) and Johanna Hattingh (74) said that people must support the country and vote.

Gogo Sizani Sishi (77) has been voting in every election since 1994 but doubts she will ever enjoy the fruits of this country’s democracy.

The mother of three has lived in Sacca informal settlement in Mkondeni for more than a decade and previously lived in a similar area in Durban.

She recalled how excited she was to vote for the first time in 1994, saying she was filled with optimism.

“There are all these promises made about how our lives were going to be better but I haven’t experienced that and I’ve made peace with the fact that I’m likely to die in poverty.

“At my age I still have to use the bush to relieve myself like a wild animal. Even people in rural areas now have toilets but the government keeps telling us that we will only get them when we get RDP houses,” she said.

She said she was grateful for her pension but wished that she had a house so that her children would not continue living in shacks after her death.

Gogo Sizani Sishi (77) has been voting in every election since 1994, even though she said little had changed in her life under democracy.

She said her children would have built her a house if they had stable jobs.

“I’ve had this shack collapse on top of me twice since December but the landlord still wants his rent [of R130] every month. Someone gave me a small plot in France Township to build my own shack but the finances are tight,” she said.

The floor of her shack is still damp from the Easter weekend’s rains and she used two wood planks as makeshift pillars to support the roof whose poles have become unstable.

In Sweetwaters, Gladys Gabuza (77) and her husband Zefaniya (81), who have been married for over 30 years, have also been voting since 1994.

“It’s the right thing to do. We are both very excited. Although we have been married for many years, we don’t discuss our vote,” she quipped.

Gogo ZC Zuma (65) said she had only voted because she feared if she didn’t her pension money would be stopped.

“They said we won’t get our pension money if we don’t vote. I rely on this money to put food on the table for my grandchildren, so I had to come,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  elections

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