The 29th of May saw South Africa’s seventh democratic elections bring voters to the polls across the rainbow nation. Although voting is a process which inevitably carries a weather-exposed wait without adequate seating, the voters of district 32952618 –the Hillcrest Municipal Swimming pool – were left stranded in a queue which spanned two city blocks at times and took upwards of 13 hours to traverse.

Whilst political party’s jostled for last-minute favour, the student-ridden voting population – reportedly 18 000 strong – were left without answers. One student, Sisa Mkhize, who waited in line for eleven hours to vote believes that the “IEC did not anticipate the turnout that we had” and that the volunteers present were “very slow”. The perceived lethargy of IEC volunteers was in part exacerbated by the fact that in spite of the registration numbers being known by the last day of voter registration (23 February), there were still only three ballot boxes at the voting station. Furthermore, Refilo Mokone, explained that in her half-day wait in line she saw several people “just come in to stand in line; cutting in front of people who’ve been here for hours”. The maladministration of the IEC saw the official cut off time of 21:00 come and go, with voters still pouring into the swimming pool gate. The SAPS were on site and come 22:00 the gates to the station had closed with more than a thousand voters jammed into the parking lot to continue their queueing.

People in queue waiting to vote. Picture by: Daniel MacAslin

People in queue waiting to vote. Picture by Daniel MacAslin

With nightfall and the continued length of the line, many were concerned about safety – an ominous reality which came to fruition when a cell phone was stolen 50 meters from the entrance to the station. Through discussions with several voters and party agents throughout the night, one question kept surfacing: why is the line at station 32952618 taking upwards of 13 hours, when station 32920593 – at Belgrave Square Park a mere 500 meters away – saw a more manageable wait of between two and three hours? In spite of conversations with IEC observers and officials at the municipal pool no clear answer could be given. It is an issue which a much higher-up administrator need face.

The wait to vote may have deterred some, but amongst the sound of iGwijo and the chatter of newly met friends many South Africans were unnerved in their quest to vote. Tyron Fourie and Success Ngobeni were five-hours-deep into the line when they jovially answered that “we’re still here because we think that our vote is necessary… if the vote wasn’t necessary, we wouldn’t be here”.  Although the IEC left voters in a tedious situation many persevered to vote into the early hours of Thursday morning, with the last vote being cast between 3:00 and 4:00 AM. Although they should not have been, the voters of district 32952618 were a perfect picture of the determination of South Africans to exercise and cherish their constitutional right in the face of abject difficulty.

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

Images taken at the voting station. Picture by: Daniel MacAslen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daniel McAslin
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