The affordable education loan option
Potchefstroom - A scuffle broke out at a voting station in ward 26, Tlokwe, on Wednesday, amid claims of voter intimidation.
Police had to step in when African National Congress members and residents supporting independent candidate Butiki “Stone” Mahlabe faced off outside the gates of the Tshupane School.
ANC supporters claimed that residents supporting Mahlabe, a former ANC councillor, were telling voters that he was still an ANC member and that they should vote for him.
“They are telling them who to vote for. Let us be fair and square,” said a woman, who did not want to give her name.
Mahlabe supporters claimed ANC marshals, wearing brown, army-like uniforms, had told people their RDP houses would be taken away if they did not vote for the ANC.
There were also claims of people trying to drive into the voting station area, which was not allowed.
Mahlabe said he did not believe there would be transparency in the by-election because of interference.
“The (Independent Electoral Commission) should do its job. They said no cars would be allowed into the centres, but now we are seeing one car trying to go in with claims that there is someone who is paralysed,” he said.
“We don't know what the car has inside.”
Speaking about the scuffle, Mahlabe said the ANC knew it was losing and was trying to intimidate residents and cause tension.
Tensions have been high in ward 26, which is being contested by ANC candidate Oupa Mogoshane and Mahlabe, who was an ANC councillor in the area for 12 years.
Ward 26 is the biggest area being contested, with 5677 registered voters.
Mahlabe is 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 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.
Following the scuffle, police closed the gates to the voting station to control access.
Supporters from the various camps continued to shout insults at each other.
Samuel Maleke, a ward 26 resident, said he was confident Mahlabe would win as it was the community which had asked him to remain independent.
“People believe in Stone. He used to bring service delivery and they don't want to lose someone like him. They asked him to stand and vowed to support him,” he said.
By-elections are being held in wards six, 18, and 26 in Tlokwe.
Ward six is being contested by Johann Coetzee for the DA, Japhta Monaisa for the ANC, and Lesego Malepe for the Azanian People's Organisation.
Ward 18 is being contested by Thapelo Skosana for the ANC, and independent candidate David Kham, who is also a former ANC councillor and chief whip.