Voting begins on time in most of Soweto

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Soweto - Voters have begun queuing in polling stations around Soweto to cast their ballots in the country's fourth democratic elections.

There has been a jovial mood with voters expressing their eagerness to cast their votes.

Not even the chilly morning weather could damper their spirit and most say they arrived at the voting stations as early as five in the morning to make their mark.

Tables and banners bearing the logo and colours of the Independent Electoral Commission were already set up before 7am, and electoral officers stood ready to perform their duties when the polls opened.

Officials setting up the polling stations say they were surprised that people were already queueing up when they arrived at Topia Church voting station in Orlando.

Both provincial and national ballots were in sufficient numbers at all voting stations visited by BuaNews.

By the time voting started shortly after 7am, the queue was already snaking, going to about 500 metres long at the Orlando polling station.

In Diepkloof, things were a little slow with only a handful of voters there when the voting stations opened.

In most stations, the large number of people in the queues seemed to be elderly people.

An elderly woman, who kept moving with her chair as the queue progressed, said: "I was the first person to arrive here, for me voting is very important even at my age".

Another voter remarked: "I am voting for the first time and it feels very good".

Most said the voting process was very quick and easy and only those who voted at stations where they did not register, experienced slight delays as they had to fill the VEC form allowing them to vote at that station.

IEC officials at the stations said no incidents have been encountered so far and that they were fully prepared for the day ahead.

Police officials can be seen keeping a close eye on all voting stations.

Officers will be on high alert until the voting stations close at 9pm.

Soweto is the biggest township in South Africa with a majority of the 5.5 million voters registered in Gauteng coming from here.