Deployment of soldiers helps restore law and order in Mthatha

The deployment of the army in Mthatha, Eastern Cape, helped restore calm and security as millions of people went out to cast their votes on Wednesday

This comes after a violent taxi strike that brought the city to a standstill on Monday.

The protest, according to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), only had an impact on about nine voting stations; the rest were still in use.

Except for technical glitches that caused several voters to leave voting stations after being notified that their names did not appear in the IEC system, there were no incidents of violence reported in the municipality.

Community protests

“We had nine voting stations affected by community protests, but that number has gone down to two voting stations that remained closed,” said provincial electoral officer Kayakazi Magudumana.

“One [of the voting stations that remained closed] is in Amahlathi municipality, and the other is in King Sabata Dalindyebo municipality.”

About 15 people have since been arrested in relation to the taxi strike.

Cooperative governance and traditional affairs MEC Zolile Williams confirmed that special votes proceeded as planned in the province on Monday and Tuesday, including in Mthatha, Port St Johns, Nyandeni, and other areas impacted by the taxi strike.

“There are no reports of major challenges that negatively impacted the voting process. The potential hotspots were closely monitored,” said Williams.

Law and order restored

Unathi Binqose, a spokesperson for the Eastern Cape transport department, said law and order have been restored in Mthatha.

“Law-enforcement officers, including members of the SANDF [SA National Defence Force], are keeping a close eye on developments as rescue teams continue to clear some debris from Monday’s violent protests, which were notable for running battles between the police and protesters and mass looting of delivery trucks,” said Binqose.

During the strike, taxi operators allegedly hijacked trucks and used them to block both sides of the N2 and R61 roads.

The strike followed violence between warring taxi associations a week ago.

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