The incident unfolded at the Abel Motshwane Secondary School polling station, where the woman said she wanted to vote for a party belonging to “Molema (not Malema)”.
Party agents who were within earshot had a heated argument on whether she had meant to say “a political party of Mandela or Malema”.
The argument affected the voting process, leading to the closure of the voting station for an hour.
However, the squabble was settled after parties agreed that an Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) official, who was accused of misleading the woman to vote for the ANC, be kicked out of the station.
The by-election followed the untimely death of the Councillor Esther Matumane, who was gunned down outside her house in September.
Regional ANC Youth League secretary Ratshi Mashamba said that despite the tension, voting had moved very smoothly.
“There was an argument whether she said Malema or Mandela.
“The EFF was trying to say she had said she wanted Malema and not Molema. The ANC said she must have meant Madiba,” he said.
While he was disappointed by the low turnout in all the eight voting stations, Mashamba said: “We are going to retain the ward. It is not easy to win a ward from another political party.”
Despite the Mandela or Malema confusion, there was a relatively peaceful mood throughout the day when residents trickled into stations.
By 2pm the IEC officials said they expected more voters to turn out because the majority of people were still on their way from work.
DA candidate Rhulani Baloyi expressed satisfaction with the voting process, saying there were no major hiccups reported.
“People came out to vote, but I am not yet sure as to which party they will vote for. But I hope they have made the right choice,” he said.
The ANC was represented by Fanafuthi Hlatswayo, while the EFF candidate was Johanna Seema.
The new-kid-on-the-block, the Arusha Economic Coalition, was represented by Ali Mlazi, a former ANC member.
The two-month-old party was founded in Winterveldt and its first by-election contest was last month in Ward 9, where it finished fourth.
Party organiser Mmaphefo Mlazi said she was confident it would walk away with victory given its popularity within the community.
The results are expected to be released today by the IEC after having been audited.