South African Elections: No violence but muddle at the polls

(First Edition)

SOUTH AFRICA's first democratic election may have to be prolonged by an extra day following an error-strewn but bomb-free limited first round day of voting. yesterday.

Scores of administrative problems from shortage of ballot papers to locked polling stations were reported around the country on a day of 'special voting' for the sick, elderly, handicapped, pregnant and imprisoned.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) last night refused appeals from the Inkatha Freedom Party, and less vehemently the ANC, for an extension of the two days of open voting which begin today. But the Commission may be forced to reconsider if the kind of confusion seen in many areas yesterday is repeated , or even redoubled, when the vast bulk of South Africa's 23 million voters try to go to the polls this morning.

The good news was that the voting, the first by all races in South African history, was relatively free of violence. Two trucks carrying unused ballot papers were set on fire near the east Rand township of Katlehong. But there was no continuation of the spate of 13 bombings, causing 21 deaths, which disfigured the previous two days.

It emerged yesterday that Police had shot dead a white man in the early hours of yesterday morning after he tried to tamper with evidence at the scene of an explosion in a Pretoria bar on Monday night in which two black people died. The Johannesburg Star reported that three people had been detained for questioning in connection with the bombings., campaign, believed to be the work of the white-supremacist Right. Responsibility for the most serious of the attacks, the bombing of at a taxi rank in Germiston, which killed 10 black people on Monday morning, has been claimed by the ultra-right Boere Bevrydingsbeweging (BBB). Police yesterday issued an identikit picture of a white man suspected of involvement in the Johannesburg car bombing in Johannesburg city centre on Sunday in which nine people died.

At his final press conference of the election campaign, the ANC president, Nelson Mandela, appealed to voters of all races to ignore the violence. 'Standing together, let us send a message loud and clear: we will not let a handful of killers steal our democracy.'

As of Last night the greatest threat to the elections seemed to come from administrative foul-ups, caused partly by the Inkatha's late entry into the campaign. of the Inkatha Freedom Party. There were angry scenes in Soweto and other Johannesburg area townships when polling stations did not open or ballot papers were not delivered on time. Some elderly voters people waited for up to seven hours to cast the first ballots votes of their lives.

But The worst problems were in KwaZulu-Natal, where polling stations were short of both ballot papers and the add-on stickers devised to include Inkatha when the party belatedly entered the election last week. There were also reports of buses arriving at the wrong polling stations. Elsewhere, general polling stations which were not supposed to open until today threw open their doors and long queues of ordinary voters formed prematurely outside. The IEC sent urgent orders for ordered them to close. down.

The Inkatha spokesman, Ed Tillett, said: 'How can one hope to achieve fair election results? In vast areas (our) supporters cannot vote today.' What it boils down to is plain, incompentency'.

The electoral commission chairman, Justice Johann Kriegler, told a press conference last night that said there had been teething troubles but most of the day's voting had gone reasonably well. He said there was plenty of time left over in the next two days for everyone to vote.

However, a potentially serious problem is arising over the Inkatha add-on stickers. These are not turning up at many polling stations. Under the rules laid down, any ballot paper filled in without the sticker attached is invalid.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing