‘I don't want to regret not voting’Comment on this story
Cape Town - It marked the end of months of campaigning when hundreds of thousands of voters queued at stations across the province. Most were dressed casually, an ink marking and the majority of a public holiday waiting for them at the end of the line, while others dressed for the occasion - proudly wearing their party's shirts or clad in the colours of South Africa.
First-time voters at the St Paul's Church in Rondebosch on Wednesday morning admitted deciding who to vote for was far from easy.
Thandiswa Mbusi, 19, said she's been waiting so long to vote that she wanted to make an informed decision. She took the trouble to read parties' manifestos and compare their stance on various issues but on Wednesday morning her cross will be guided by what promises have not been delivered in the last 20 years.
She said the party's leaders “kind of deters one from voting” because of scandals and controversy. This created “trust issues” for voters who then associated the whole party with that leader.
“I can understand why some people feel hopeless, but I don't want to look back and regret not voting.”
Bonolo Bonokoane, 19, said education and the way the system was structured was a key voting issue for her.
But for one 82- year-old, the early morning delays were unacceptable. “They couldn't organise a party in a brewery.” However, he remained determined to play his part.
Hout Bay library was crammed with voters queuing to make their mark at the area's busiest station. The station opened just after 7am, and with a single copy of the voters' roll, the line went frustratingly slowly for the first half hour.
The IEC team quickly made plans to speed up the process and by 9.30am people were moving smoothly through the station. Elderly voters were escorted to the front of the queue while children on rollerblades wove through the snaking line in the sunshine.
Presiding officer Michelle Yon struggled to attend to the crowds with only one ID scanner. It is her fourth election as an IEC official, and her first manning a station in town rather than in the poorer communities of Imizamo Yethu and Hangberg.
Despite the demands and impatience of many in the queue, she said she has been treated far better here. “People are treating us with more respect and dignity,” Yon said. She was tired, hungry and stressed by 10am, but still smiling. “It is a proud moment for me that I can help make a free and fair election.”
In Athlone, residents made their way to voting stations on Wednesday morning - many with their children in tow.
There was a heavy police presence at stations in Manenberg and Heideveld with officers assisting IEC officials with voting proceedings.
At Cathkin High School in Heideveld and the Manenberg Community Centre supporters the ANC and the DA were prominent fixtures outside both stations advertising with posters and other paraphernalia.
Many residents based their votes on gang violence in the area.
“There are a lot of people dying in Manenberg and it is time we have a government that can sort this issue out,” said resident Anthony Jacobs.
In Table View, even the snaking queue didn't dampen the mood of voters lining up to cast their vote at the Methodist church on Janssens Road.
Many people were in jovial spirits, striking up conversations with strangers as they waited.
First-time voter Chanay de Klerk, accompanied by her father, said going into the elections her fear of corruption had bad been one the biggest motivations for her vote.
“Corruption has become so much part of our society that it scares me. Unfortunately that's the ugly truth about our country, but I still believe in it that's why I'm voting today,” she said.