Voters queue to cast their ballots in De Doorns, in the winelands of the Western Cape province, on May 7, 2014.
South Africa's election is expected to see the ruling African National Congress (ANC) return to power despite a vigorous challenge from opposition parties seeking to capitalize on discontent with corruption and economic inequality.
A voter registers at a polling station in the restive Bekkersdal township, west of Johannesburg.
About 25 million citizens -- including a "born free" generation electing a government for the first time -- are eligible to vote.
Residents dance to protest the burning down of a polling station in Bekkersdal. Three voting tents were set on fire during overnight protests in the township, where residents have complained about what they describe as inadequate government services, according to Eyewitness News, a South African media outlet. Dozens of police and military vehicles have deployed in Bekkersdal in recent days.
A woman waits in line to vote in the restive Bekkersdal township.
South African President Jacob Zuma greets ANC supporters after voting in the Nkandla district. In the last election in 2009, Zuma's ANC fell just short of a two-thirds majority.
Voters show their ID cards as they stand in line at a polling station in Bekkersdal.
Some 22,000 voting stations were operating at schools, places of worship, tribal authority sites and hospitals, and several dozen vehicles serving as mobile voting stations were heading to remote areas.
People wait to vote at a polling station in Soweto, Johannesburg.
Helen Zille, leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, arrives to casts her vote in Rondebosch, Cape Town. A recent poll suggested the Democratic Alliance would increase its share of the vote to 23.7 percent from 16.7 percent.
A supporter of the ANC wears a T-shirt depicting Nelson Mandela as he stands in line to cast his vote at the Hospital Hill informal settlement south of Johannesburg.
The ANC, which led the fight against apartheid, has dominated politics since Nelson Mandela was elected as South Africa's first black president in 1994. On the ruling party's watch, millions of people have gained access to water and other basic services, but protests routinely erupt in areas where residents say the government has ignored their needs.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu casts his ballot in Milnerton, Cape Town. Tutu said South Africans should be thankful that they can vote peacefully.
"I'm thinking of Ukraine. I'm thinking of South Sudan, you know, all of those things happening there," he said. Recalling the violent struggle against white minority rule that brought about the country's democracy, he said: "People were imprisoned. People suffered. So we mustn't waste it. We must keep remembering we got this at a very great price."
A long line of people waiting to vote at a polling station in Zandspruit, west of Johannesburg.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.