Intimidation keeps willing Vuwani voters away

2 August 2016 - A youngster from Tshivhulana village bikes pass IEC officials locked outside Tshivhulana primary school in Vuwani. Photo: Chester Makana/ANA

VUWANI -- Some 24 kilometres from Vuwani CBD and nestled below green hills is the village of Ha-Masia where hundreds of residents were not voting on Wednesday due to intimidation.

According to their leader chief Matsila, the area had experienced the lowest ever turn out.

“Under normal circumstances there would be a long queue here until a bit late towards 5 in the evening,” he said.

 

 

He added, “So we are quite disappointed that people are scared and intimidated to come and exercise their right to vote. However we are still pushing our people to come and vote.”

 

 

Driving through the dusty streets of the small village residents could be seen going about their daily business.

Shops were opened and the sick making their way to the local clinic.

At one polling station, off the main road in the village, only 21 people had voted by midday

Residents from the Ha-Matsila do support a collective decision by Vuwani residents that their area and surrounds should not be incorporated into a new municipality with Malamulele.

However, they are strongly opposed to how some of the residents are dealing with the issue.

 

 

“Our push here at Ha-Matsila has always been that we must use non violent means to request for the reversal of the demarcation decision.”

“That’s why it’s calm, because we don’t support violence. We don’t support what other people in other areas are doing barricading streets and harassing everybody and burning people’s properties,” he said.

Meanwhile, as voting slowly continues in the volatile town – some residents are attending a soccer tournament.

Hundreds of residents have gathered at a soccer field in Vyeboom village for the tournament that would see different teams of residents go up against each other.

 

 

The area is under heavy security with around 1,000 personnel deployed to the troubled town and residents have chosen the soccer games in a silent protest to boycott municipal elections.

“There is nothing wrong if people decided to play soccer on this day. I was doing observations in Mamelodi and Atteridgeville and I saw people carrying on with their normal business. Playing soccer is not prohibited and it is not going to draw the attention of the police at all, ours is to ensure that the environment is conducive for people to cast their vote and we are doing well in that regard,” said acting police commissioner Khomotso Phahlane.

 

 

He told a media conference in Pretoria that authorities are satisfied about how voting day was progressing in Vuwani.

At the same time, State Security Minister David Mahlobo is in Vuwani to assess the situation.

His visit follows that of Cogta minister Des van Rooyen earlier in the day.

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