The government said on Monday afternoon that it was pleased with the millions of South Africans who have already heeded the call to cast their vote.
Polling stations were scheduled to open at 7 am and close at 9 pm.
The Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) said it was “happy to report” that over 99% of the 23 148 voting stations opened on time to kick start voting in the 2021 local government elections.
“Voters who are at the voting station or in a queue at 9 pm will be allowed to vote,” said the IEC.
By midday more than 3.5 million voters had already voted, said the IEC.
Government Communication and Information System Director-General, Phumla Williams, said: “The vibrant atmosphere at voting stations around the nation is encouraging and we are confident that these elections will build on our history of holding regular, peaceful, and free and fair elections.”
She added: “Our message to those who have not yet voted is that your country needs you to stand up and vote. Your vote matters and can make a difference, as we work together to build a better tomorrow”.
Williams said the government joins the IEC in encouraging South Africans to keep making their way to voting stations throughout the day and in “commending voters for the dignity and patience with which they are conducting themselves”.
The IEC also reported several problems ranging from a Newzroom Afrika journalist being arrested to 19 pollings stations in the Eastern Cape failing to open on time because of protests. The journalist has since been released.
In Limpopo, a hailstorm delayed the opening of voting stations in Giyani.
There were reports of voters being turned away for wearing party regalia – something the IEC said was allowed and only prohibited to polling agents.
Covid-19 safety protocols are in place at polling stations, which include, all voters being required to sanitise their hands when entering and exiting the voting station.
Voters are encouraged to bring their pens, although a pen will be available in every booth and will be sanitised after every vote.
Eligible voters who show up without wearing a mask will not be allowed to vote or enter the voting booth.
On Covid-19 jabs, Williams said: “We reminded voters who have not yet taken the opportunity of vaccinating, to visit pop-up vaccination sites near your voting station”.
You can find your closest vaccination site on https://sacoronavirus.co.za/active-vaccination-sites-iec-voting-stations/.