The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Monday said it was concerned about the arrest of a Mpumalanga community media editor, Etienne Mare.
Sanef Chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase said Mare was arrested on Friday, having on election day on May 8, posted a video online claiming that he was on his way to vote for a second time after hearing from a female voter that she had been able to vote several times.
He claimed he wanted to test the IEC’s voting systems.
In the video, he showed that it was easy to rub off the indelible ink mark on his thumb – a supposed fail-safe system to prevent citizens from voting twice.
Mare specifically spoilt this second vote so that it would have no impact on the election results.
The South African Police Service in Mpumalanga tracked down Mare and the voter on Friday. Both appeared in the Barberton Magistrate’s Court on charges of contravening Section 88(d), of voting more than once, Section 89(i)(a) intentionally making a false statement and Section 90(2) infringement of secrecy of the Electoral Commission Act, 1996.
Mahlase said Sanef said it did not believe that journalists were above the law and were aware of the fact that it was an offence to vote twice.
“It appears that Mare was genuinely operating in the public interest. He resorted to these measures to conclusively test the IEC systems with the purpose of highlighting possible electoral fraud. The fact that he spoilt his second vote was an indication of the fact that he was not trying to subvert the voting process,” said Mahlase.
– African News Agency