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Police officers anger Lubuli voters

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LUBULI – Lubuli residents engaged in a protest action, complaining that the police had taken ballot boxes elsewhere, shortly after voting.
The constituency is in the southern end of the Lubombo region.

Last night’s stand-off was caused by a decision by the police to take ballot boxes to the police station after lights went off at Lubuli High School.
Normally, the counting has to be done at the same polling station where voting was conducted.
The Times SUNDAY established that the people objected to the taking of ballot boxes to the police station for counting to be done there.
It was alleged that the voters wanted everything to be done at the school but the police insisted that the counting was to be done at the police station.

The voters said they were ready to wait until power was restored.
The police, in turn, said ballot boxes should be taken to the police station. A toyi-toyi ensued which went on until late into the night at around 8pm.  Last night, the police were still locked in a meeting with EBC officials and the competing candidates. The polling station closed at 6pm. Just before the counting started after the sealing of ballot boxes the lights went off. The people said they were determined to wait until the lights were back.

The Lubuli police allegedly took the ballot boxes into the back of their car. According to an eyewitness the people tried to block the police cars from leaving the school but the Operational Support Services Unit (OSSU) escorted the police car into the police station. At about 9pm, power was restored and there were those who felt that the counting should be done at night. Superintendent Wendy Hleta, Police PRO, referred questions to the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), saying they were responsible for the elections. Sabelo Dlamini, EBC spokesperson, said it was still early for them to comment on such things.

He said they were hoping to get a report from the different presiding officers before they could know about problems encountered at polling stations. “We will only be able to know about that once the officers give us reports. At the moment, we do not know anything,” said Dlamini.     

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