In photos: South Africa’s democracy in action

But many voters had to put up with extremely long delays

By GroundUp Staff

29 May 2024

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Residents of Enkanini in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, woke up early on Wednesday morning and braved the cold, misty weather to vote.

Many voters reported long queues and extremely long waits. Some people had to wait in line for well over four hours, for reasons that are still unclear, to vote. At a polling station in Johannesburg, the ballots only arrived at 9am.

Photo: Lucas Nowicki

Young men reportedly spent Tuesday night cutting down trees and digging a trench across the dirt road in order to block voting at Maggie Senior Primary School in Mpotshotsho, a coastal village near Port St Johns.

The protest was, according to a community member, over a demand for taps and a new road.

IEC Eastern Cape manager Khayakazi Magudumana, confirmed the school was one of five voting stations that had not opened by lunch time, Wednesday. Police, many of them in riot gear, were trying to open access to the station. She said most protests actions in the province were linked to issues with service delivery.

Photo: Silver Sibiya

At Phumla Mqashi informal settlement, south of Johannesburg, police had to intervene to stop a quarrel between voters and IEC officials after it emerged that regional ballot papers were not available and voting was stopped. At 11am the ballots had still not arrived. Some voters complained to GroundUp that they needed to be at work by noon.

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Two friends dressed in different political party regalia share a warm hug on their way to a voting station in Harare in Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Young boys watch as an army truck patrols the informal settlement in Makhaza in Khayelitsha, Cape Town. The army was deployed in some communities on election day to ensure the safety of voters and IEC officials.

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

A prisoner at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town shows off his left thumb after joining dozens of other inmates who queued at the facility to vote.

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

A female prisoner in the voting booth at Pollsmoor Prison in Cape Town. She joined more than 14,000 inmates at correctional facilities who had registered to vote in the elections.

Photo: Daniel Steyn

Children played in the streets of Rustdene in Beaufort West, sporting Patriotic Alliance T-shirts. Campaigners for the Patriotic Alliance had a significant presence at voting stations across the town.

Photo: Daniel Steyn

An ANC supporter makes his way to a voting station in De Rust, in the Karoo.

Photo: Daniel Steyn

In the Karoo settlement of Klaarstroom, there were clearly two main contenders: the Democratic Alliance and the Patriotic Alliance.

Photo: Daniel Steyn

Silwerkaroo Padstal on the N12 was converted into a voting station for the elections. People enjoyed coffee and milktart on the stoep as farmers from the area brought their staff to vote.

Photo: Daniel Steyn

An ANC party agent at a voting station next to the N12 between Beaufort West and Oudtshoorn.

Photo: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

Voters queued outside Tholamandla Primary school voting station in KwaMashu in Durban.

Photo: Steve Kretzmann

An IEC official directs voters to cast their ballot in one of three classrooms at a school in Masiphumelele, Cape Town, according to the first letters of their surnames, written out on the back of board used to build the election booths.

Photo: Matthew Hirsch

Independent candidate Zackie Achmat, with his dog, cast his vote at Jan van Riebeeck Primary School in Cape Town. This election was the first time independent candidates could run, and Achmat was the only one who made it onto the Western Cape Regional Ballot.

Photo: Matthew Hirsch

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde (DA) waited in line for about two hours to cast his vote. He said he was grateful it wasn’t raining, as it was during the last election.

Photo: Peter Luhanga

A Home Affairs mobile unit at the municipal hall near the Zusakhe polling station, Cape Town, was on hand to process temporary IDs for people who lost their documents in the 6 May shack fire in Doornbach informal settlement.

Photo: Vincent Lali

Voters queue next to stagnant water from damaged drains outside Thokozani Educare in Town Two, Khayelitsha, Cape Town.

Photo: Liezl Human

Ahead of any results, the Western Cape elections operation centre in Century City was busy. During a press conference, Western Cape Provincial Electoral Officer Michael Hendrickse said:

“It is said that political life in democratic South Africa has seldom been polite, orderly, or restrained. It has always been loud, rowdy, and fractious … In as much as our Constitution upholds freedom of expression and opinion, it also frowns on conduct that imperils free and fair elections and the rights of voters.”

Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Some dogs joined voters as they waited in line at this voting station in Enkanini, Khayelitsha, Cape Town.