Unrest won’t affect voting

Pictured at the back, from left, are DA members, candidate for Western Cape premier Alan Winde, leader Mmusi Maimane, Western Cape deputy leader Albert Fritz, Cherno Solomons and Ezekiel Arendse, from Mitchells Plain. In front are Mitchells Plain 1 constituency chairperson Soraya Rigby, Ward 78 branch chairperson Doreen Arendse, member of Parliament Ricardo Mackenzie and Keshia Arendse, from Westridge.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) confirmed that the doors to the 130 voting stations in Mitchell’s Plain would be open today, Wednesday May 8, from 7am until 9pm.

This comes hours after protests by Isiqalo informal settlement residents about political party turf led to the area being flagged as a hot spot yesterday, Tuesday May 7.

Police spokesman Captain Lance Goliath said a 27-year-old man was arrested and was due to appear at Mitchell’s Plain Magistrate’s Court on a charge of public violence after a petrol bomb was thrown at a bus at 7.30am on Jakes Gerwel Drive yesterday.

He said four people, aged 29, 31, 34 and 45, were injured and taken to hospital for treatment.

Captain Goliath said cases of malicious damage to property and public violence were being investigated.

Residents were due to cast their votes at their local community centre in the settlement, along Jakes Gerwel, between the R300 and Highlands Drive as Monday and Tuesday were set aside for special votes.

Western Cape electoral officer Courtney Sampson said at the time of the protest around 7am, that a hot spot was determined by the security clusters, including SAPS, after they have done the necessary assessment.

“We’ve been engaging with the community for the past three months. They have indicated that the voting station will be open and people want to vote,” he said.

City of Cape Town Traffic Service’s Richard Coleman said the road was closed between Morgenster Road and the R300 in both directions; Weltevreden Road was closed between Morgenster and Varkensvlei; and Highlands Drive, from Fulham Road towards Jakes Gerwel Drive for about an hour.

The IEC reported that more than 774 000 special voters were able to make their mark at voting stations and at their homes on Monday May 6 and Tuesday May 7.

This was to accommodate the physically infirm, the disabled, pregnant women and those who could not make it to voting stations today, including electoral officials, security personnel, party agents and others.

Yesterday also marked the start of Ramadaan, the month of fasting for Muslims, and the IEC, in consultation with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) ahead of the elections, had granted permission for any Muslim voters to apply for special votes should they be unable to visit their voting station due to religious reasons.

At the weekend, Mitchell’s Plain residents were kept busy with a visit by ANC leader President Cyril Ramaphosa, on Friday May 3 at the Mitchell’s Plain Indoor Sport and Recreation Centre in Portland and opposition DA party leader Mmusi Maimane at West End Primary School, in Lentegeur, on Sunday May 5.

Mr Ramaphosa turned the tables on voters, demanding a reason why they should for the ANC. “Now I want you to turn my mind and convince me that you are going to vote for the ANC,” he said.

He promised to return to Mitchell’s Plain to have a sit down and talk to residents about their issues after the elections.

His stop in Portland came amid visits to Khayelitsha and Gugulethu on Friday.

Pressed for time, Mr Ramaphosa arrived just before 1pm, minutes after Muslims left to attend Jumu’ah, congregational Friday prayers, and had initially only time for two questions.

He said gang activity has gone down by 24 percent, with the arrests of gangsters and drug dealers since the inception of the SAPS Anti-Gang Unit (AGU) in August last year.

“We want to put them behind bars. We want to put them behind tralies. Hulle moet tronk toe gaan,” he said.

Mr Ramaphosa condemned the high water bills residents had received from the DA-run City of Cape Town.

He said the ANC-led national government would have a more focused approach to ensure that funds allocated for housing be used as such.

He said South Africans should live in dignity, own their title deeds after years of paying rent and should have a sense of pride.

Various Mitchell’s Plain residents, including Yusuf Kamalie, 62, from Eastridge, sat with posters reading: “Mr President please. Help needed. For employees that are losing their jobs”.

Speaking to the Plainsman, Mr Kamalie said he had been working for a transformer building manufacturing company in Blackheath for more than 14 years and now with a new boss was being given short time and eventually, would be without a job.

There are 70 other employees who face retrenchment and Mr Kamalie said: “All I ask is for work to put food on my family’s table.”

Mavis Cupido, from Westridge, popped in to discourage voters from wasting their time waiting for the president.

She said her husband Richard had been waiting at Mitchell’s Plain Community Health Centre, for the third day to collect his medication.

Eleanor Manuels, from Eastridge, said she wanted to ask Mr Ramaphosa to investigate the murder of her son Daniel, five years ago (“Community’s cry for help”, Plainsman August 24, 2016).

Mr Maimane said it was “good” to be in the Western Cape but was corrected to say: “It is great to be in the Western Cape”. The party has had a few public spats following former mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, resigning from the DA to start the Good Party.

Mr Maimane thanked the DA leadership of the province and said Premier Helen Zille had laid an “incredible foundation”.

“I want to say to every South African activist who has worn blue, has campaigned hard, has gone door to door, house to house – you make South Africa proud because future generations will ask: What did you do with your freedom. You can say I put on my blue sweater and I brought change to SA that set SA up for a prosperous nation,” he said.

Mr Maimane said voters should not give the smaller parties a chance. “We have to show them they have no chance. Geen kans,” he said.

He said in this election, more than ever before, every vote counted. “This election has to be historic,” said Mr Maimane.