South Africa


Durban hostel residents torch car after being unable to vote

Durban hostel residents torch car after being unable to vote
(Photo by Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

A group of Dalton Hostel residents near the Durban CBD on Thursday night set fire to a vehicle parked at a voting station in Ward 32, claiming they were angry that they were unable to cast votes in Monday’s local government election, despite having registered to do so.

Metro police and officers from the local Umbilo Police Station were called out on Thursday night to the scene of a protest at the Dalton Hostel in Durban’s Ward 32.

Dalton Hostel is an IFP stronghold, but Ward 32 is ANC-controlled. According to preliminary results, the IFP won at the voting station in question — Thekwini College in Sydney Road — following Monday’s polls with 72.51%, or 364 votes, while the ANC garnered at 13.94% of the vote (70 votes) and the DA 4.53% (23 votes).

The IEC’s same preliminary results show that the ANC won Ward 32 with 51.59% (3,054 votes), followed by the EFF on 14.93% (884 votes) and the IFP on 11.74% (694 votes). 

Speaking to Daily Maverick late on Thursday night, Dalton Hostel chairman Mthembiseni Thusi said that about 400 hostel residents had registered to vote, but their names were not available on the IEC’s system on 1 November.  

“They are protesting because the IEC didn’t allow them to vote on Monday. The people who registered on 18 and 19 September did not appear on the voters’ roll. There were more than 400 who [weren’t captured on the system]. 

“The IEC area manager came to speak to the residents. I was part of the negotiations. I [told] the area manager that the community wanted to vote manually. But the IEC said they can’t do that. Then the people said ‘Okay, if you can’t do that, just close the voting station’. And that happened.”

Thusi said that “about 100 or 200” Dalton residents took to the streets on Thursday night.  

Besides torching a parked car, tyres and debris were set alight, which led to the closure of Sydney Road, Gale Street and Umbilo Road. All of these are used by truckers ferrying goods to and from the harbour, and are at any given time awash with long-haulers.  

The roads were expected to be closed into the early hours of Friday. 

According to local security groups and the police, live rounds had been fired by the protesters, although “big bang” Diwali fireworks were also heard.  

It was also reported by security groups that residents had dug up the tar road near the hostel, which is only metres from the voting station.  

Police had warned residents of Ward 32 and surrounding wards to stay clear of the scene. When Daily Maverick tried to enter the area, we were told to try alternative routes, all of which were blocked. 

The Berea/Umbilo area was severely affected during the July riots, with three malls within a 10km radius stripped bare by looters and the suburbs used as “getaway” routes. Many small businesses have yet to recover, and dozens more have not reopened. DM


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