Seventeen voting stations remain closed, reports IEC

The IEC has reported that 17 voting stations remain closed - 14 of them in KwaZulu-Natal.
The IEC has reported that 17 voting stations remain closed - 14 of them in KwaZulu-Natal.
Image: Gulshan Khan/AFP

Seventeen voting stations were still closed on Wednesday at 11.30am - but voting is generally “proceeding well”.

IEC head Sy Mamabolo made this announcement at noon on Wednesday during a press conference at the national results operation centre in Pretoria.

“South Africans are out there in their numbers. Nothing is going to dissuade them from recording their political choices,” said Mamabolo. 

Fourteen of the 17 voting stations that were still closed were in KwaZulu-Natal.

Without disclosing the precise reasons, the IEC said in a statement this was "due to access challenges".

"The Electoral Commission is working closely with security agencies supported by government departments to open these stations as soon as possible and (when it is) safe for voters and election staff."

Hiccups with IEC officials arriving late for work and ballot papers running out or being delivered late to voting stations were resolved by 9am.

Mamabolo assured South Africans that there are sufficient ballots. “Traditionally voting queues peak early as voters often seek to vote first thing during the day,” he said.

Among incidents affecting voting on Wednesday, the deputy presiding officer of a voting station in the Eastern Cape died overnight due to illness.

Meanwhile, an elderly voter died at a voting station in Elandspoort, Pretoria. The cause of death remains unknown.

In another incident, IEC staff were unscathed after they were in a car crash in the Eastern Cape.

Service delivery and other protests have marred voting in some parts of the country. Mamabolo said the IEC faced obstacles such as trenches dug across access roads to voting stations, but added that the police had managed to calm or disperse protests.

Mamabolo warned voters that removing the indelible ink mark on their thumbs could land them in prison for up to 10 years.

“The indelible ink is one of a number of security checks and safeguards built into the election process, but the commission wishes to remind all voters that any attempt to undermine the integrity of the election process – including attempting to remove the ink mark – constitutes electoral fraud and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail,” he said.

Mamabolo said the IEC is investigating videos on social media that show alleged election fraud. “Social media does present us with the opportunities to communicate instantaneously, very inexpensively - yet at the same time it does present possibilities of disinformation,” he said.

Mamabola said if they find any possible election fraud, ballot papers would be quarantined and the IEC would decide if they are counted.

He said the area manager and the deputy presiding officers at a voting station in Ermelo, Mpumalanga, were fired because of “the manner in which they handled the transfer of the special voting ballots”.

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