KwaZulu-Natal, identified by police as a hotspot for the country’s general election on Wednesday, was relatively calm on Tuesday, despite protests to the north of Durban.

According to police spokesperson lieutenant-colonel Thulani Zwane, about 100 people started protesting along Varsity Drive and the M19 in Reservoir Hills from 4am on Tuesday morning.

The residents were believed to be shack dwellers from a nearby informal settlement.

Zwane said there were no damages or injuries reported, and that public order policing and Metro police were on the scene. “The situation is currently calm,” he told African News Agency.

South Africa – Durban- 26 – 03 -19 – Seven trucks including 3 hysters on N2 were totched in the early hours of yesterday morning in Hidcote near Mooi River
Picture Bongani Mbatha / African News Agency (ANA)

The protests started a week earlier, with striking employees allegedly cutting water supplies, leaving several areas running dry for days.  This in turn prompted sporadic strikes in other parts of the metro as residents demanded a resumption of water supplies.

According to IOL on Monday night, about 800 residents from the Siyanda township, also to the north of Durban, blocked Dumisani Makhaye Drive with burning tyres and hurled stones at passing vehicles.

The residents said they were protesting because they had been without water for more than 10 days.

KZN’s safety and security MEC, Mxolisi Kaunda, who also chairs the provincial justice, crime prevention and security cluster, told journalists at the IEC’s election centre in Mayville on Tuesday that the province was secure ahead of Wednesday’s election.

The cluster had drawn-up a comprehensive master plan to ensure peace and stability during the election, said Kaunda.

The master plan addressed key safety and security issues, including:

– Ongoing intelligence assessment and categorisation of voting stations in terms of risk

– Confirmed voting stations, including mobile and satellite stations

– Security provision for political events and demonstrations

– Stabilising operations and physical deployment in problematic areas

– Assembling of investigative teams

– Centralised co-ordination of reported cases

– Deployment of law enforcement officers to react to reported incidents

– Inspection of voting stations

– Securing the voting stations and their presiding officers

– Escorting ballot papers to voting stations

A ballot box and polling booths are readied ahead of Wednesday’s election, at a polling station in downtown Johannesburg, South Africa Tuesday, May 7, 2019. The upcoming elections will take place 25 years after the end of apartheid and are the country’s sixth all-race polls. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

“We are happy to report that the assessment and classification of all 4884 voting stations has been done and we can assure all the 5.5 million registered voters in the province that they can go and exercise their democratic right freely,” Kaunda told journalists.  

Over 1000 additional police have been deployed to KZN to ensure the safety of voters, with reservists and defence force members also on standby, according to police minister Bheki Cele.

-ANA; Editing by Catherine Rice