Police parked in strategic positions on Tuesday night as protesting residents of Vuwani threatened shutdown ahead of the national elections. Four voting stations in Vuwani, which had earlier opened, were also forced to close for a period during the course of the day due to unrest and safety concerns. Picture Itumeleng English/African News Agency(ANA)

Tshwane (National Results Operations Centre) – With just hours to go until voting stations are scheduled to close, five voting stations had still not opened by 5pm on Wednesday.

In the Eastern Cape one voting station in Buffalo City and one in Ntabankulu have not opened and in KwaZulu-Natal three voting stations in Inkosi Langalibalele municipality in the uThukela District (Escort) have also not operated on Wednesday.

MEC for Cogta Fukile Xasa decried the action by the community of  Ntlangano in Ward 1 in Ntabankulu that led to the voting process not taking place in the area. 

This, he said denied 591 people eligible to cast their votes. He described the action as sad and unfortunate. Subsequent to the access not granted to the IEC staff to conduct the special votes in the area, Xasa said he had engaged the community with the purpose of unlocking whatever had led to the impasse. 

He said the community is demanding the removal of the ward Councillor, the finishing of an incomplete road, provision of electricity and the construction of a bridge. 

"We have engaged the Ntlangano community and responded to all their concerns with realistic time-frames but they decided against allowing the IEC to do its constitutional mandate. It is clear that they do not want to vote regardless of the commitments we made as government. It is once again an unfortunate situation for those people of the area who are eager to vote," said Xasa. 

The IEC said on Wednesday that efforts to resolve these and provide voters in these areas with an opportunity to exercise their democratic right to vote are continuing and will continue for as long as is necessary.

Four voting stations in Vuwani, Limpopo which had earlier opened were also forced to close for a period during the course of the day due to unrest and safety concerns. However, these have all now re-opened, the IEC said.

Reports have been also received of temporary shortages of ballot papers at some voting stations where distribution plans were not fully implemented. A factor which contributed to shortages was the ability of voters to cast their votes at any voting station in their province in line with section 24 (a). In most cases shortages were rapidly resolved by the redistribution of ballots and reserve stock and voting resumed quickly, the IEC said.

The Electoral Commission encouraged those voters who may have been waiting for the initial rush to pass to urgently make their way to voting stations to ensure they have an opportunity to vote before stations close at 9pm. 

As noted earlier, no voters who are in a queue at 9pm will be turned away and voting will continue until the last voter in the queue has been served, the IEC said.

The Electoral Commission said it remains highly satisfied and encouraged with voting progress throughout the day and throughout the country. 

South Africans are voting in the country's sixth general elections since the abolishment of apartheid 25 years ago.

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