First-time voter Qiniso Dlamini, right, arrived at Durban City Hall at 11.30pm on Tuesday to vote in on Wednesdays election. Local pastor Duma Pilate, pictured with him, a crime monitor in the area, initially thought Dlamini was a hobo or a criminal up to no good and was about to call the police. Picture: Puri Devjee

Durban - First-time voter Qiniso Dlamini was so eager to make his mark in South Africa’s fifth general elections on Wednesday that he arrived at a Durban polling station at 11.30pm on Tuesday.

And when the doors to Durban City Hall opened for voting, the 24-year-old man realised his goal - and became the first person to cast his vote there.

But Dlamini, who lives with his mother in a flat in Stalwart Simelane (Stanger) Street, almost did not make it.

He had to first fend off a local pastor, Duma Pilate, a crime monitor who initially thought Dlamini was up to no good on the doorstep of the city hall.

“I drove around shortly after 11.30pm and saw him outside city hall and thought it’s just a hobo or someone lurking around,” Pilate said.

“When I drove a second time around city hall and saw him in the same spot again I got very suspicious and even thought about calling the police. However, when I approached him and he told me he was waiting in line to vote, it made me so happy.”

Even the city hall security guards were at first suspicious of Dlamini.

“I had initially been sitting on the steps and they told me to move away because they had problems with people stealing the brass handles off the doors,” Dlamini said, laughing. “They did not want me near their doors.”

He said he was so excited about the prospect of voting that he could not sleep and decided to rather go to the voting station and wait for it to open.

“I was not politically aware before and that is why I did not vote. However, I have come to understand the world we live in a bit better and I was eager to cast my vote this time.”

Wearing a windbreaker, a scarf, a woollen cap and leather gloves, Dlamini found a spot nearby where he settled in for the night.

At 3am, he was joined by the second voter, 67-year-old Chris Chetty.

“I get up early every day so this was not a problem getting here at 3am,” said Chetty. “I’ve done it for every election since 1994.”

About 6 800 voters had registered to vote at Durban City Hall.

Daily News