Home News Unrest in S.Africa township after polls

Unrest in S.Africa township after polls

Published on 10/05/2014

South African police said Saturday they arrested around 60 rioters after violent protests in a Johannesburg township amid allegations of voter fraud in elections that returned Nelson Mandela's ANC to power.

Rivalry reminiscent of the twilight of apartheid had flared up between the African National Congress and Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) shortly after the polls on Wednesday.

The IFP and EFF parties have made claims of vote-rigging in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township, where angry residents on Friday burned tyres and barricaded roads, and the army was deployed to help quell the unrest, police said.

“Since yesterday (Friday) 59 people have been arrested for public violence,” police spokesman Neville Malila told AFP.

Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of up to 400 people, said Malila.

“Last night there was army deployment,” he said, adding that police remained in the restive former blacks-only area.

No casualties were reported and national police spokesman Solomon Makgale said the rest of the country was calm.

The military left the township on Saturday morning, defence ministry spokesman Siphiwe Dlamini confirmed. An AFP photographer saw armoured police vehicles patrolling streets littered with debris and charred remains of election posters.

ANC provincial spokesman Nkenke Kekana blamed the Inkatha Freedom Party for the protests after it lost key constituencies in Alexandra in the vote.

“For the first time since 1994 the ANC managed to win those voting districts from the IFP. That is the source of the violence,” he told AFP.

He also accused the IFP of preventing election officials and ANC representatives from leaving a government building in the area on Thursday.

“They blocked them from coming out of the offices,” Kekana said. “The IFP must just accept that people in that area chose the ANC instead of them.”

“It’s anarchy and it’s completely unacceptable,” he added, also accusing new left-leaning party the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of supporting the IFP.

“There is a history of violence in that part of Alex in the past and we don’t want to go back to that,” said Kekana.

– ‘Mafia tactics’ –

Thousands died in clashes between ANC and IFP supporters in the early 1990s during negotiations to end white-minority rule.

Alexandra was one of the hotspots in the fighting between the liberation movement and its white-government-funded rival.

But a senior IFP election organiser denied the protests stemmed from old rivalries.

“In Alexandra it’s not about the IFP and the ANC,” said Muzi Ntuli.

“There were irregularities during the voting process,” he told AFP.

The IFP complained to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) after it spotted boxes carrying ballots transported in a car with ANC-branding, he said.

“Unfortunately they didn’t give us any clarity so that’s why people are angry.”

He also denied that election officials were blocked from leaving the area on Thursday.

“Our (party) members were inside the gate trying to get clarity from the IEC,” he said.

“Unfortunately the police arrested our leaders in the area yesterday (Friday) and now the situation is very tense.”

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema called on township residents to accept the outcome, while accusing the ANC of unspecified “mafia tactics” to win the vote in the Gauteng province.

Gauteng, which houses key cities Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria and has the largest number of voters, was the slowest to report results.

“They’ve had to use mafia tactics to win Gauteng,” Malema said at a news conference of the ruling party, whose youth wing he headed until the ANC expelled him two years ago.

“People in Alexandra, we call on you to accept defeat,” he said.

“Don’t put South Africa into ashes because of election outcomes.”

Completed vote counting results showed the ANC won 62.15 percent of the national ballots, while main opposition Democratic Alliance came in second with 22.23 percent, the EFF third and the IFP a distant fourth.