Voting mostly smooth in KwaZulu-Natal

MAKING HIS MARK: Zweli Mkhize. 22/04/09. © Sowetan.
MAKING HIS MARK: Zweli Mkhize. 22/04/09. © Sowetan.

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

It took nearly 10 minutes for ANC provincial chairperson Zweli Mkhize to get to his voting station which was only 500 metres away from his home in Willowfontein, Pietermaritzburg.

Mkhize - the man set to take over as premier if his party wins the province - negotiated a gravel road and then a footpath surrounded by icy cold and wet long grass to Thandokuhle Pre-School.

He acknowledged to the media that this was the "fiercest election ever", alluding to the tough campaigns hosted by his party and that of his opposition, the IFP.

Voting proceeded smoothly in Pietermaritzburg and in Richmond, which had been previously ravaged by violence.

In Greytown, where sporadic violence had erupted in the run-up to yesterday's election, all was calm.

At Umsinga, another hot spot, police and residents said there were no incidents.

Meanwhile, police intervened as tempers flared between IFP and ANC supporters at Estcourt's Wembezi township - a key flashpoint.

Also in the Midlands, at his Elandskop homestead, former IFP strongman David Ntombela arrived early to cast his vote.

Ntombela, who was allegedly shot at by ANC supporters a fortnight ago, expressed his optimism about the elections. "It's peaceful and we expect people will cast their votes freely."