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Potchefstroom - Emotions were running high at the Tlokwe municipal by-elections on Wednesday at a Ward 18 voting station, where the ANC was up against one of its former councillors.
African National Congress supporters and residents supporting independent candidate David Kham, who is a former ANC chief whip, stood on opposite sides of the road outside the Chris Hani Community Hall, as minibus taxis ferried in voters.
Both sides were confident, based on the number of people who checked the voters' roll at their tables.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said that of the 2374 people registered to vote at that polling station, 563 had cast their ballots just before 5.30pm.
A total of 3251 people were registered to vote in the ward, which has three polling stations.
Resident Bongile Qotwane said he supported Kham.
He said it was clear that the ANC would not win, because the residents were tired of corruption.
“How can you fight corruption while you want to protect individuals?” he asked.
Qotwane said the community would vote based on the candidate's character and willingness to fight corruption.
He said the community was willing to give Kham a chance.
“They don't just like him, they love him,” he said.
Kham was one of 14 councillors who were expelled by the ANC in July after its provincial disciplinary committee found them guilty of misconduct for participating in a motion of no confidence against Tlokwe mayor Maphetle Maphetle.
Maphetle was replaced as mayor by Democratic Alliance councillor Annette Combrink.
The ANC's national disciplinary committee later overturned the expulsions.
Despite this, eight of the councillors registered as independent candidates for the by-elections.
Wards Six, 18 and 26 were being contested in Tlokwe on Wednesday.
Ward Six was being contested by Johann Coetzee for the DA, Japhta Monaisa for the ANC and Lesego Malepe for the Azanian People's Organisation.
Ward 26 was being contested by Oupa Mogoshane for the ANC, and independent candidate Butiki “Stone” Mahlabe, also a former ANC councillor.
Earlier, tensions ran high in Ward 26 and there was a scuffle between ANC supporters and residents supporting Mahlabe, amid claims of voter intimidation.
By-elections were meant to be held in nine Tlokwe wards on Wednesday, but the Electoral Court in Bloemfontein ordered on Tuesday evening that five of them be postponed.
This followed an application by five independent candidates, who were disqualified from taking part in the by-elections by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).
A sixth by-election, in Ward 13, was postponed earlier, after an out-of-court settlement.
On Wednesday, North West local government MEC Manketsi Tlhape said she was ready to announce a date for the next by-elections in Tlokwe following the postponements.
“The next by-elections will be proclaimed as soon as the requisition from the IEC has reached my office so that all the parties involved should begin to prepare for elections as soon as possible,” she said.
“The proclamation will also include Ward 13 of Tlokwe, where elections were postponed and also at Ward Five of Tswaing municipality, where a vacancy was declared following the resignation of a councillor,” she said.