Independent Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON
Independent Electoral Commission chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON

THE number of incidents during this year’s elections was significantly lower than in previous years, but despite instances of polling stations opening late due to logistical issues and community protests, problems were not expected to persist through the course of the day, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said on Wednesday.

Ninety-five percent of voting stations were running as of Wednesday morning, despite delays including late arrival of staff the number of instances was small compared to previous elections, IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya told journalists at the IEC Command Centre in Pretoria.

Millions of voters began heading to 22,264 voting stations nationally, amid isolated reports of late opening of stations as officials waited for ballot boxes or personnel. There were also reports of faulty equipment slowing queues outside stations on Wednesday, while hot spots such as Bekkersdal in Gauteng and Rustenburg in the North West were being closely watched for signs of violence.

Community protests had also prevented the opening of some stations, including in Gugulethu in Springs, said Mr Moepya. No foul play was expected in the delayed opening of a station in Barkly West, the Northern Cape, after party agents were involved in a car accident, he said.

No station was expected to be closed throughout the course of the day, said Mr Moepya, adding that the IEC was confident all the necessary systems were in place to ensure all voters intending to cast their ballot would be able to do so. In areas such as Bekkersdal, voting was proceeding smoothly, he said.

On Monday, an African National Congress (ANC) party agent stored ballot papers for special votes at her home also in Springs on the East Rand. This led to the commission quarantining the ballots. The IEC has dismissed an election official involved, while the ANC has replaced its party agent in the ward.

Deputy chief electoral officer of operation Sy Mamabolo said on Tuesday the IEC was confident of its systems in place to ensure any party objections were dealt with.

The IEC is expected to give another briefing on the state of the election process later on Wednesday afternoon.