Police on high alert in Vuwani as election day approaches

The pro-Makhado task team that had led the Vuwani community raised another demarcation issue, this time wanting to be incorporated into the Makhado Local Municipality.

FILE: A police Nyala in Vuwani after a few days of unrest in the area. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Police said on Tuesday they were keeping a close eye on developments in volatile Vuwani, outside Giyani, where some residents have threatened to protest on election day.

The area experienced a series of violent protests with residents withholding their votes in 2016 to protest the Municipal Demarcation Board’s decision in 2015 to incorporate the area into the newly established Collins Chabane municipality in Limpopo.

Although that issue was settled through inter-government intervention, the community was now up in arms again.

The pro-Makhado task team that had led the Vuwani community says they want to be incorporated back into the Makhado Local Municipality.

Limpopo electoral officer Nkaro Mateta said the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) experienced no disruptions during the special voting in the area on Monday and had recorded a turnout of over 70%.

“Even influential traditional leaders are saying people should ignore those who say they shouldn’t go to the polls to vote. In as far as the IEC is concerned, Vuwani matters are proceeding quite well,” Mateta said.

The IEC in Limpopo also said Vuwani residents were able to cast their special votes in the volatile village without incident on Tuesday.

Mateta said despite special voting going smoothly, they were concerned about possible disruptions on Wednesday.

“We’re concerned about those people because if you go on TV and announce there will be no voting, that is against the rules of our elections. If you do not want to vote because you have not received water, you better stay at home. That is exactly what we have been teaching against and we say to the police that if someone goes on TV and say there will be no voting, that person is committing an offence.”

The joint security cluster last week said Vuwani had been identified as was one of the hot spots that would be receiving special police attention this week as millions of South Africans prepare to take to the polls in less than a day.

Provincial police spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo said they would not leave anything to chance.

“We will not allow a situation where people are being intimidated because that is exactly why we are here,” he said.

Close to 20 schools were torched in the area during the 2016 protests.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)