Pretoria - As millions of South Africans rushed to their voting stations on a chilly Wednesday morning, inside the Kgosi Mampuru II Correctional Facility in Tshwane, Pretoria, thousands of inmates stood in line to cast their votes.
Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ) Minister Michael Masutha was at the facility to assess the proceedings and ensure the smooth running to operations.
"The policies and laws that we pass as the government affect every South African and that includes people who are incarcerated. Therefore, they too are affected by who is in government," Masutha said.
He added offenders' rights to vote were enshrined in the country's Constitution as well as in the UN declarations.
"It is not every country in the world that upholds some of these norms and values. It matters to inmates what the attitude of political parties is towards them as well as their wellbeing."
Ahead of the elections, officials worked around the clock to ensure offenders obtained their identity documents on time.
Inmate Itumeleng Mogorosi, 39, who was voting for the third time, said he was not conflicted about who to vote for.
Asked what he hoped his vote would achieve, Mogorosi replied: "I hope the country's economy will grow, create jobs for people who are outside, even for us when we come back to rejoin society. We would like to have a chance to participate in the economy because if it doesn't grow, chances of us going out (being released) and not getting employment are high. This might be a chance to get a second shot in life."
According to the Electoral Commission and the Department of Correctional Services (DCS), up to 11 000 offenders were registered to vote in these elections. At Kgosi Mampuru, DCS spokesman Singabakho Nxumalo said 2 400 were expected to cast their votes.
Gauteng has the highest number of inmates voting this year followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.
Although society often frowns upon prisoners, Mogorosi said he still had the right to ensure his voice is heard.
"It's important to me (to vote) because it is my Constitutional right as a South African. Even if I'm still incarcerated there are still some rights that need to be maintained," he said.
Meanwhile, Masutha, who had visited the Johannesburg Correctional Centre, known as Sun City, on the eve of the elections said he would be visiting his Parliamentary Constituency in Rosebank before heading to his voting station in Norwood, north of Johannesburg to make his mark.
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