Overseas voting in South Africa's fifth democratic election went off smoothly and without any major hitches at 116 voting stations across the world, according to initial reports from the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and Department of International Relations and Cooperation.
The last voting station to close its doors, at 6am South African time on Thursday, was in Los Angeles in the US.
The IEC said in a statement that the ballot papers were being couriered in secure bags back to Election House in Centurion outside Pretoria, where they would be reconciled against the list of approximately 27 000 voters who had notified the Chief Electoral Officer of their intention to vote outside the country.
The ballot papers would then be securely stored until local voting stations closed and the counting of all ballot papers started after election day on 7 May. The final number of votes cast abroad will therefore only be known once counting of the overall vote is completed.
"The votes from all international voting stations will be combined into a single international voting district," the IEC said.
Turnout was reported to be high at the two largest overseas voting stations, in London, where over 9 000 voters were registered, and in Dubai, with 1 539 voters.
The next round of special votes will take place on Monday and Tuesday, when election officials will visit 295 731 special voters in their homes, retirement centres, hospitals and health care facilities and other places of residence throughout the country to allow them to cast their ballots.
In addition, 90 698 voters also successfully applied to cast a special ballot at the voting station where they are registered. This brings to 386 429 the total number of voters who have been approved to cast a special vote.
Of the 22 263 voting stations, 3 593 have no special vote applications and will therefore not open on Monday and Tuesday.
The voting station with the largest number of special votes is in Keimoes, Northern Cape, where 454 voters have successfully applied for special votes, 328 of them through home visits.
A total 1 285 voting stations have just one approved application for a special vote.