Durban – Six people had been arrested thus far following protests in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday as South Africans were casting their votes in the general election.
According to one of KwaZulu-Natal’s police spokespersons, brigadier Jay Naicker, one person was arrested at Ntuzuma, Durban and five at Bergville, in the Midlands area.
Four voting stations in Bergville were closed as a result of the protests, according to IEC officials.
They are hoping to have the stations open within the next hour.
African News Agency (ANA) previously reported that protests had taken place in eThekwini’s Ntuzuma, Cato Manor, Cato Crest and Umgababa areas early on Wednesday. Tyres were set alight and dumped on roads, but the scenes were cleared relatively quickly.
All of the protests were service delivery related, according to Naicker.
However, three areas identified as hotspots in the province – which has itself been identified as a hotspot – were calm, according to police minister Bheki Cele.
He said that the KwaMashu Hostel, together with Ndwedwe and Lindelani in the iLembe district, were three of the provincial hotspots that police were carefully monitoring.
Cele was talking to journalists after casting his vote at Lamontville, near Durban. Before that, he visited the Umlazi area, also known for political violence and service delivery protests.
Additional officers had been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal and the North West province – also considered a hotspot. Defence force members and police reservists were also on standby.
“But I am being told things have been running very smoothly,” said Cele of KwaZulu-Natal’s hotspots.
As part of the police plan to ensure voting was not hampered, low risk voting stations throughout the country would be manned by two police officers, medium risk stations would receive four officers, while six officers were deployed to high risk stations.
There were “several” areas in KZN that were considered medium and high risk, said Cele.
“I have been told (voting) has started well in Lindelani and we hope they keep it that way.”
KwaMashu Hostel had also “given us a little bit of a problem”, he said, adding he would be visiting the area later in the day.
He commended the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) for “trying their best” to get stations open on time. The IEC had done things “quite well” by keeping time, he said.
Another provincial police spokesperson, lieutenant colonel Thulani Zwane, told ANA that no additional protests had thus far been reported.
African News Agency (ANA)