Unrest in S. Africa township following vote
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – South African police said Saturday, May 10, 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 has made claims of vote-rigging in Johannesburg's Alexandra township, where angry residents on Friday burned tires 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 Agence France-Presse.
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.
The military appeared to have left the township by Saturday, according to an AFP photographer, while armored police vehicles patroled 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 during 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 as well as ANC representatives from leaving a government building in the area on Thursday.
"They blocked them from coming out of the offices," he 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.
Thousands died in deadly clashes between ANC and IFP supporters in the early 1990s as negotiations continued to end white-minority rule.
Alexandra was one of the hotspots in the attacks 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 the party's 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."
Military spokesmen and EFF representatives could not be immediately reached for comment on Saturday.
Completed vote counting results showed the ANC won 62.15% of the national ballots, while main opposition Democratic Alliance came in second with 22.23%, the EFF third and the IFP a distant fourth. – Rappler.com