Photo of author

By Dimakatso Modipa

A private house in Bali village Nellmapius, Tshwane used as a voting station photo supplied

The country’s main election day (29 May 2024) was marred by the usual network reception failures at various voting stations in Tshwane.

Lack of network reception makes it impossible for IEC officials to scan IDs of potential voters to ascertain their real identity and also to make sure that they are at the voting station at which they have been registered to vote.

The intermittent network failures have rocked Tshwane voting stations since the day of special votes on Monday.

And today it was no exception as network failures disrupted the voting process even at Kgoshi Mampuru Correctional Centre in Tshwane.

This situation compelled IEC officials to move from the hall of the prison, which was the designated voting area, to the kitchen of the prison as the network reception was better there.

Be that as it may, the enthusiastic prisoners didn’t mind using the kitchen of the prison as a voting station and they cast their votes happily.

About 2 980 prisoners who are eligible to vote at Kgoshi Mampuru Correctional Centre cast their votes.

One prisoner, Charles Zwane, told Tshwane Talks that his vote is his voice and that the vote will contribute in finding solutions to various things that he feels must be fixed in the country.

Zwane said as a law-breaker himself, he obviously has experience on law-breaking activities and that given a chance, he can contribute immensely regarding strategies aimed at stopping criminal activities in the country.

Zwane is currently serving time for sexual offences at the prison.

Inmates at Kgosi Mmapuru prison after casting their votes photo by Dimakatso Modipa

Another prisoner, Tebogo Sedie said he was happy to have been given a chance to vote as voting gives him a chance to have a say regarding government matters.

Sedie is currently in prison for murder and robbery.

Yet another prisoner, Luyanda Ntantiso said he feels good about having voted as this is a positive contribution to the country, unlike the crime he has been convicted of.

Ntantiso is in prison for sexual offences.

Addressing the media at the Kgoshi Mampuru Correctional Centre on Wednesday morning, Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola said it was his belief that prisoners should also participate in democratic elections, this as prisons are run in terms of former President Nelson Mandela’s principles.

“Those principles include giving prisoners decent and dignified standards of living as enshrined in the constitution of the country,” he said.

“It is not easy being in prison and if you would ask anyone who is in here what his greatest wish would be, they will tell you that their wish is to be released and allowed to go home,” explained Lamola.

“We don’t agree with the notion that they should be disenfranchised as voting is a human right for both prisoners and non-prisoners,” he said.

Inmates in Kgosi Mampuru prison in Tshwane photo by Dimakatso Modipa

“As we are well aware, some of the prisoners will be released one day and they need to participate in the decision-making process regarding the direction that their country will take,’ said the Minister.

He emphasised that voting is part of the prisoners’ rehabilitation programme.

He revealed that prisoners have paid for the accumulation of their own IDs and that they were not funded by the government in this regard.

Meanwhile, voting at Jukulyn Soshanguve voting stations was also interrupted by lack of network reception and IEC officials there had to conduct their duties in stops and starts, depending on the availability of network at any given time.

At Nchuncheko Primary School, 217 voters had already cast their votes when the Tshwane Talks team arrived there, while other voters were still waiting impatiently in the queues for network reception to be available, and most of them were the elderly.

A total of 1 798 people is expected to vote at the station.

As a result of lack of network reception, IEC officials have resorted to capturing information on paper, and this makes the voting process to be very slow.

Another challenge at the voting station is that some voters are at the correct voting station but they don’t appear on the voters roll.

Fist-time voter Keamogetse Maubane ( 20) told Tshwane Talks that he hoped that his vote will bring change to the issue of drug abuse in Soshanguve as presently many youths were engaged in the deadly habit, while those selling the said drugs did so with impunity.

“People who sell drugs get arrested but they come back soon afterwards with no consequences against them,” lamented Maubane.

Another first-time voter Noluthando Mdhluli (19) said she is voting with the hope that there would be an eradication of crime in Soshanguve and also because she wants to be given financial assistance by NSFAS.

Meanwhile, reports have emerged that a private house is currently being used as a voting station in Bali village Nellmapius, North of Mamelodi.

The address of the house is 10385 Inkambula Extension 15, Bali Village, Nellmapius.

First time voters of Jukulyn Soshanguve, Tshwane waiting at the queues to cast their votes in Nchuncheko primary school photo by Dimakatso Modipa

Some residents were so confused and shocked, and while others were angry to see a private house used as the voting stations.

There were IEC officials wearing their uniforms working as normal and people waiting in queue to cast their votes.

“This is unacceptable, and this is wrong all this year’s IEC had been putting a tent in an empty land and now we are surprised to see this’s year’s elections people are voting in a private home,” said confused resident Hilda Makola.

“I believe this matter should be reported and action must be taken and we demand answers on why a private home turned into a voting station,” said frustrated Godfrey Mahlangu.

At the time of publishing this story, the IEC had not yet responded to the above-mentioned matter.

Leave a comment