Voters removed from Vryheid roll

The Independent Electoral Commission has removed more than 1500 people from the voters’ roll in Vryheid, IEC chairwoman Pansy Tlakula said on Wednesday.

Possible voter registration fraud sparked the move and police had been asked to investigate, she told reporters in Durban.

The by-election for Ward 22 of the Abaqulusi municipality, scheduled for April 24, was postponed after it was alleged that hundreds of people registered in the ward did not live there.

Andre Lotter, the former African National Congress councillor for the ward, obtained a court order postponing the election, allowing him to stand as an independent councillor and ordering the IEC to investigate the voters’ roll fraud.

Tlakula said the names of 1525 people were removed from the Ward 22 roll and returned to the voters’ rolls from which they had been transferred. She said it could not be proved that they lived in the ward.

When the IEC published the names of 1534 voters, urging them to make representations to the IEC, only 11 people came forward.

Eight were able to persuade the IEC that they should be registered in the ward and one had since reregistered in another voting district.

The by-election was scheduled to go ahead on August 7.

KwaZulu-Natal chief electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said that starting in January, most of the 1525 voters had registered in the ward prior to the announcement of the April 24 by-election.

He said the fact that so many voters registered in such a short time showed it was an “organised exercise”. The IEC’s office in the municipality and those involved in the registration of the voters would also be investigated to see what had gone wrong.

Last week it was reported that there were 3695 registered voters in the ward in the 2011 local government election, but that by April 24 this year there were another 2470 voters — an increase of 66 percent in two years.

Tlakula said anyone found guilty of forcing someone to register or persuading them to do so could face a 10 year jail term if convicted by the Electoral Court.

If a political party was found to have been complicit in such a fraud the court could fine it up to R200,000, with deregistration of the party being the top penalty.

The municipality is currently under administration. It was formerly controlled by the ANC with the help of the National Freedom Party.

Lotter’s resignation forced the by-election, leaving the ANC tied with the Inkatha Freedom Party on 16 seats each in the municipality.

The NFP has seven, the Democratic Alliance three and one seat is controlled by a candidate from the Owethu Residents’ Organisation.

A split within the NFP’s ranks resulted in a hung municipality, with the same number of votes in favour of the IFP and the ANC, when the speaker was included.

Speaking after the IEC press conference, Lotter said he was unhappy that the IEC had not provided any information about who was behind the alleged fraud.



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