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Voting proceeds in KwaNyavu despite torched voting station

Picture: Samkelo Mtshali/IOL Politics

Picture: Samkelo Mtshali/IOL Politics

Published Nov 1, 2021

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Durban - Despite the torching of part of a voting station and threats to stop voting from going ahead at the Ntobeko Creche voting station in KwaNyavu in the Mkhambathini Local Municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, a heavy police presence ensured voting proceeded on Monday.

Members of the rural community, situated between Durban and Pietermaritzburg, have flocked to the voting station as police visibility in the area has ensured that threats made over the weekend against would-be voters and Electoral Commission staff members did not materialise.

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Over the weekend community members padlocked some voting stations in the area as they demanded the reinstatement of their local chief. In a handwritten note outside one of the voting stations, a threat was made to any member of the community or electoral staff who attempted to gain access to the station.

“As we have said before that nobody will vote and we don’t expect the gate to be opened whether by a staff member or a voter. Go ahead and open it if you want to see what will happen (sic),” the threatening note read.

One community member who spoke to Independent Media on condition of anonymity said that community members were displeased.

Picture: Samkelo Mtshali/IOL Politics

“The community was not happy and they marched to the Premier’s office in Pietermaritzburg and said that if this is not resolved, voting would be disrupted.

“We thought there was going to be no voting at all, but because of the visibility of the police we have started to come to the station to vote. We don’t know who burnt the facility, but I don’t think it is people from this area because everyone seems shocked about this,” he said.

He said although there was heavy police presence the threats remained as there were some people who allegedly told voters that the police will not be guarding the area forever to protect them and that there will be consequences for voting.

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Thabani Ngwira, spokesperson for the Electoral Commission in KwaZulu-Natal, confirmed that the voting station in KwaNyavu had opened late due to a dispute regarding traditional leadership.

“Voting station officers were not comfortable working at the voting station because they reside in the area and were receiving threats which made them feel unsafe. To resolve the situation, the IEC swapped staff around by sourcing personnel that resided outside of the area to conduct voting station operations,” Ngwira said.

Speaking to Independent Media in Pietermaritzburg former Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said that he and other leaders of the ANC and traditional leaders had been in KwaNyavu to try to resolve the issues around traditional leadership in the area and they had come to an agreement to put a stop to the impasse.

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“We hope people will calm down and allow those who want to go to vote to do so because the right to vote is important and the problems can be solved after the elections,” Mkhize said.

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