Police had to be called to a Du Noon voter registration station on Sunday afternoon, when about 300 people attempted to force their way in when it became apparent that the station was closing.
Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials closed the door to the hall of the Inkwenkwezi High School at about 4.30pm. Those inside the hall could still register, but there was a line of people waiting to register outside that stretched from the entrance to the hall and out of the school gates.
Witnesses said those not in the hall began shouting and demanding to get inside.
ANC campaign organiser Shedreck Makeleni said: “They [the IEC officials] closed the doors inside at 4:30pm. That’s when the problem started.”
He said representatives of different parties had tried to consult with IEC staff about the issue but they had “refused to budge”.
IEC officials then called the police and a police van with three policemen inside arrived.
When the Daily Sun arrived on the scene calm had returned, but people were still angry that they had been unable to register.
Zambuntu Ndondolozi said he had been to three voter registration stations, but had still been unable to register.
“I feel bad because I want to exercise my right to vote. I don’t know what to do. All I wanted was to take part in the elections,” said Ndondolozi
Congress of the People (COPE) member Christopher Matomela estimated that over 300 people had been unable to register as a result of the closure.
He said he had tried to negotiate with IEC staff to resolve the problem, but had been unsuccessful.
IEC Western Cape electoral officer Courtney Sampson confirmed the incident in Du Noon.
Sampson said people had trekked in “very late”, but denied that the voter registration station had been closed early, maintaining that people had even been registered after the 5pm cut-off.
“We have a major problem in these communities. People always come late. Somewhere we need to draw a line,” he said.
Sunday was the last day of an IEC registration weekend, the last weekend of its kind before general elections expected to take place in April.