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KZN special votes continue amid protests in some areas

Among these areas is Umlazi township where residents were protesting on Mangosuthu Highway and barricaded roads.

Inside the Durban City Hall voting station as the special voting day commences on 6 May 2019. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

DURBAN - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) in KwaZulu-Natal said on Monday voting was continuing at all stations that were approved for special votes, including those areas affected by service delivery protests.

Among these areas is Umlazi township where residents were protesting on Mangosuthu Highway and barricaded roads.

More than 100,000 voters were approved for special votes in the province, 70,000 of them for home visits.

The KwaZulu-Natal IEC had to take into account protests in at least five municipalities and in some areas IEC staff were delayed in delivering voting material.

“Our staff was locked in at Maphumulo municipality together with the area managers that were carrying materials that should have been delivered in all voting stations in kwaMaphumulo, but swift action by police ensured that we managed to unlock that situation,” said provincial electoral officer Ntombifuthi Masinga.

The provincial police have had to make strategic deployments for the election period but they said all was under control.

“We have done our threat assessments and we know in terms of polling stations, certain stations will have more police there than others,” said KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Brigadier Jay Naicker.

SAPS DENIES SANDF ROLE IN POLICE OPERATIONS

Police in the province said the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) could not be deployed to police service delivery protests as they were not trained to do so.

Naicker responded to reports that the army had been deployed alongside officers in the province in the wake of demonstrations that were threatening to derail voting in at least five municipalities.

The IEC conceded its biggest logistical challenge in the province remained unpredictable service delivery protests.

Naicker denied police operations were being bolstered by the army.

“As we've always been saying, the SANDF cannot be used to police because they are not trained for that, so I’m not aware of any area where there is SANDF,” he said.

Masinga said the IEC would not extend voting hours but it would request assistance with special voters who won't get their home visits in affected areas on Monday.

“If, for any reason, we are unable to reach anyone we are supposed to visit we are encouraging people to assist those people to voting stations on voting day.”

It appeared the protests may also have had an impact on voter turnout for these elections.

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