The opening of more than 22 000 polling stations at the weekend by the Independent Electoral Commission was marred by service delivery protests in many parts of the country. In some instances no residents registered from areas in which there had been protests.
Protesters petrol-bombed two voter registration stations in Bekkersdal, on the West Rand, on Saturday and clashed with the police.
On Saturday, IEC officials had to be escorted into Boiketlong informal settlement, in Sebokeng, in the Vaal Triangle, after reports of intimidation had been received. On Friday residents formed a human chain to stop police entering the area.
A resident was killed and another seriously injured on Tuesday in clashes sparked by protests about the lack of housing.
Violence erupted in Bronk-horstspruit, east of Pretoria, for a sixth day as attempts were made to stop people registering.
In Port Elizabeth’s Silvertown informal settlement, protesters turned away both IEC officials and ANC regional leaders. They ordered IEC officials to remove a voter registration tent.
Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa yesterday described the voter registration process as a success.
“Overall, we are happy about what we committed ourselves to … that is that no area would be a no-go area. If the IEC has designated an area to be one of the polling stations we have made it a point that that happens,” he said.
Mthethwa said there were genuine service delivery protests at which people raised concerns about genuine issues, but some of the protests were politically driven. There were reports, he said, of Economic Freedom Fighters members distributing tyres in Hebron, North West. Burning tyres are used to barricade roads.
Mthethwa said: “The law enforcement agencies have a responsibility to enforce the law. There is no negotiation.
“The criminal justice system is working so that people who destroy property, or attack or intimidate others, face the full might of the law, including motivating strongly for people not to get bail if they do these kinds of things.”
He said he was disappointed with the voter registration turnout in some of the areas beset by service delivery protests.
In Bekkersdal yesterday some residents said they would not register but others said they would.
Anni Mthombe, who went to her registration station to check for her name on the voters’ roll, said she hoped that South Africa would change for the better.
“The ANC is the only party we know, love and respect.
“I’m not happy that I hear of people in government embroiled in corruption when we are dying of hunger. However, leaving the ANC is like spitting on Tata’s grave,” she said.
Greater Westonaria Concerned Residents’ Association chairman Wonder Modise said the entire community had decided not to register to vote.
“We are sick and tired of nepotism, corruption and maladministration in this municipality. The municipality must be restructured so the mayor and her councillors are shown the door.”
The IEC’s area manager, Enoch Ngcanga, said 44 new voters had been registered.
“The police presence made a huge impact … people could come to the voting stations without fear.
“Had there been a police presence on Saturday the turnout would probably have been bigger,” Ngcanga said.