Joburgers brave the icy weather to make history

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Johannesburg - Thousands of Joburgers have braved the icy weather to stand in long snake-like queues at the Jobubert Park polling station, waiting to make their historic cross next to the party that best represents their vision.

By 7:30am more than 2 000 people were queuing at the biggest polling station in Johannesburg, which has approximately 4 000 registered voters on the voters' roll.

Presiding Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officer at the Joubert Park polling station, Patric Phosa told BuaNews he was confident that his team had everything under control.

"We are ready, you can see the people are already in their numbers but I'm confident my team will make it happen," she said, hoping that the momentum keeps up.

"Despite the chilly weather, we anticipate that the voters will come out in their numbers as the day progresses," he said.

Mr Phosa said he believed their planning and execution was impeccable and they will serve voters with "honour and due dignity."

Mr Phosa warned that those who turn up at the voting stations under the influence of alcohol will be turned back.

"We also advice members of the public that no arms will be permitted at the voting station," he said, adding that police officers are also present at the station.

While keeping her vote a secret, voter Linda Mbabe, 59, said she was voting for change. Casting her vote at Joubert Park polling station, she said she wanted her pension to be increased.

"We hope the new government will build more hospitals especially in the townships as they are very crowded in those areas. Orphans also must be taken care of and crime must be eradicated," she said.

Another excited voter Miriam Grootboom, 49, said: "I'm voting for my kids," she said, adding that her grandmother couldn't vote at her age, so she was doing it for her too.

Forth time voter, Michael Wilkins, 49, told BuaNews that "the process was smooth and everyone looked excited to be voting," adding that the officials at the station were efficient.

Mr Wilkins said he had spent less than an hour in the queue at the Killarney Country Club polling station, were former president Nelson Mandela is expected to vote later in the day. By 7am more than more 30 people had started to form a queue in the affluent suburb.

"The atmosphere is good, everyone seems quite happy to be here," he said.

A group of domestic workers who refused to identify themselves at the station also hoped for better recognition in the new government.

"For example, we are going to work straight after this, despite the day being declared a public holiday," they said.

They also raised concerns about high food prices, crime, unemployment, health and better education.

An observer from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Freedom Front (FF) Plus were among the people at the voting station to ensure that the elections were free and fair.

"It's going very smoothly, we have not had any problems yet," they said.

For a full list of all polling stations, one can visit the voting station finder on the IEC website

Joburgers must also remember to take their identity books with them to the polling station as the proof of registration is in the book.

Today is declared a national public holiday and polling stations will be opened until 9pm.