Alexandra Township, north of Johannesburg, South Africa exploded into riots after the final election results were announced. Alexandra Township is home to more than 30,000 people. The township is one of the poorest urban areas in South Africa, and borders the wealthy, up-market areas of Sandton, Wynberg and Malboro.
Alexandra Township has a history marred by violence. In 2008, xenophobic attacks starting in this area spread across South Africa. This resulted in a large number of foreigners from neighboring countries being deported back home.
Police and Metro officers were positioned in Alexandra to stop the protests. Police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse crowds rioting over the final election results. A large contingent of the South African Army was deployed to the township in an attempt to assist the police stop the riots. The police confirmed they did not fire any live ammunition during their quest to quell the riots. The aftermath of destruction continued as an IEC Voting Centre was set alight.
The Inkatha Freedom Fighters (IFP) lost significant support in the 2014 election, and the Zulu support base is the main contributor of this party. Alexandra has experienced clashes between the African National Congress (ANC) and IFP in the past. IFP supporters threw stones, looted shops and burnt tires after barricading a road. According to reports, about 59 people have been arrested for public violence.
According to reports, IFP supporters saw ballot boxes in an ANC car and protested after the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) did not investigate the matter with perceived urgency. An IFP spokesperson, Sibongile Nkomo, said the IEC did not receive an official complaint. He agreed with the deployment of the army into the area to calm the situation, as the people were intensely angry. The IFP voters do not accept the loss of support during the final election tally, and failed to accept their party lost two voting districts in Alexandra to the ANC.
Nkomo called on all the Alexandra residents to calm down and said the situation is extremely dangerous. He said this new violence if not stopped could turn into another Marikana killing, when 34 miners were killed by the police during riots a year back.
The Economic Freedom Front (EFF), the new political party who received more than a million votes in the election, denied there were any EFF supporters involved in the dispute between ANC and IFP supporters. An ANC representative confirmed he had received information about the EFF supports in the area that were igniting the protests. Julius Malema, the leader of the EFF told the residents to remain calm, accept defeat and let the ANC to rule for the next five years.
The South Africa Army and police will remain in the Alexandra township until the stressful situation is under control. Although the violence has been curbed, the residents remain tense and angry. The area is a mess with rocks and debris all over the place. The purpose of the violence is still not clear, although the stigma surrounding the IEC transport system of ballot boxes not being reliable could be a factor for the outburst. The sudden riots which erupted after the South Africa final election results gives another indication of total frustration by the citizens of the country.
By Laura Oneale