East London – An old woman from Nompumelelo township on the edge of East London’s Beacon Bay suburb was seething with anger as she was turned away from voting by Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials on Wednesday, claiming she did not appear on the voters’ roll even though the octogenarian claimed to have voted at the very same station in past elections.
Nontuthuzelo Sontshela, 82, woke up early on election day and headed to Sakhikamva High School accompanied by her daughter, Siphokazi, to vote there. Sontshela was beyond disbelief when she was instructed to turn back and go home by IEC officials who could not find her name on the voters’ roll.
Speaking to I’solezwe lesiXhosa straight after being turned away, Sontshela angrily stated that her bone of contention was the fact that she had always voted at this same place in past years.
"I was born here in Nompumelelo, I do not know why I am not on that list of voters. I have voted at this place for years," she said.
Her daughter, Siphokazi said IEC officials simply apologised and asked her to go away.
"My mother has been voting here for years, so I am a bit lost when they turned her away now. In another list, her name appears and then on the other one she is not there", said Siphokazi.
The rejection of Sontshela contradicts the IEC’s Twitter account (@IECSouthAfrica) which currently has a pinned tweet dated 7 May 2019, stating that a person can cast a national vote at any voting station if they are registered to vote. Only if you are voting outside the province you are registered in, will you be unable to also cast a provincial vote. You will only get one ballot, to vote for your national candidate only.
Having seen an @ilisolezwe tweet about Sontshela being turned away, IEC officials rushed to her house in Nompumelelo. There they checked her Identity Document, took the daughter’s phone number and advised that they will probe the matter further before leaving. At the time of writing Sontshela was yet to vote.
Meanwhile, Nontsikelelo Dickson, also from Nompumelelo said that she voted because she would like to see the second phase
of housing construction being completed.
"We are voting because we want government to speed up building our houses here in Nompumelelo. Government officials in our midst must start listening to our complaints," said Dickson.
Another voter, Mzingisi Zom, said he had also voted for housing in Nompumelelo. "I want a house, because I registered
for it a long time ago. I pay R250 per month to live in a shack. If only government can just build us houses I would be very happy!"
Zonke Metso, also a Nompumelelo resident said: "Voting is very important. We want change and nice things. We want to get out of shacks here in Nompumelelo because they get flooded when it rains."
Another voter we spoke to, Thembalethu Falithenjwa, said he was voting for change. "Jobs are there but most of the youth here in
Nompumelelo are unemployed, and this leads them into things like taking drugs."