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Parties weigh in as political posters in Mbombela are destroyed and defaced

The election posters of several political parties have been removed, destroyed or defaced in Mbombela ahead of the 2024 general elections. This is act is punishable by law. Some party representatives recently weighed in on the situation.

Did you know that destroying, defacing or removing the election posters of political parties is a criminal offence?

With several election posters of various political parties defaced, vandalised or removed throughout Mbombela, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has warned the public and members of political parties that this act is indeed a criminal offence and punishable by law: a fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

The Mpumalanga IEC’s spokesperson, Thanduxolo Chembeni, said Section 2 Schedule 99 of the Electoral Act contains an Electoral Code of Conduct that prohibits destroying, removing, or defacing posters of other parties.

“It is therefore a criminal offence for anyone to engage in such acts, and if found guilty, they can be fined or sent to prison for up to 10 years,” said Chembeni.

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“On April 12, 2024, the political parties made a pledge and signed the code of conduct binding themselves to its contents. The code is binding to political parties, electoral staff and citizens, and comes into effect the day the state president proclaims the election day. Anyone affected may approach the police to lay criminal charges and must have evidence to support the allegations,” he said.

An ANC poster in Mostert Street was vandalised a few weeks ago. Someone painting a red nose on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s visage. A FF Plus poster along Piet Retief Street was torn last week.

There have been reports of other political parties also having their posters defaced.

The Mpumalanga ANC’s spokesperson, the MEC for health, Sasekani Manzini, said the ANC is aware that a number of posters are being vandalised, defaced or removed in some areas in the province, and that the ANC will continue to replace them.

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“At this stage, we are not yet intending to open a case, however, we continue to monitor the situation. Should it escalate, we may consider to take such action,” she said.

“At this stage, we have not yet taken stock of all ANC posters vandalised as we concentrate much more on replacement, given that the elections are getting much closer. We are, however, humbled by the increasing trust in the ANC by members of society, as studies suggest. Notwithstanding vandalism of our posters, the ANC will win the elections overwhelmingly.”

The DA Mbombela Constituency’s chairperson, Cyril Chuene, said the Mbombela DA is very concerned about the vandalisation of its posters in the Mbombela area.

“We have experienced a significant number of the DA posters either vandalised or removed from the poles,” he said. “There is a constant defacing of our posters, especially on routes leading into the city. It is a very worrying factor for the party. The DA, through our representative in the IEC provincial and municipal liaison committees, has raised the matter with the IEC.”

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He said the defacing, vandalising and removal of election posters is a criminal activity and shows the lack of political tolerance among the political parties. He added that it becomes so costly for the party to replace election posters.

“It is our view that the importance of avoiding and eradicating such cowardly activities will ensure that parties become visible and allow voters to make their choice on election day.”

Heloïse Denner, a FF Plus member of the National Assembly, said the party is aware of the nationwide problem of vandalism of election posters.

“This has been brought to the attention of the IEC. We urge people to lay criminal charges if they can identify the culprits. It is important for people to note that vandalism of election material (i.e. posters) is a criminal offence … ”

The FF Plus’s provincial leader, Werner Weber, said the trouble is catching somebody in the act to have the proof to press charges.

“We are aware of the situation; in Piet Retief, a streetful of our posters were removed. Unfortunately, we don’t know by whom, so we cannot open a case. In the meantime, all we can do is to accept this sort of thing will happen and to try and catch someone in the act.”

The EFF were sent questions about the defacing of political posters, however, no response had been received by the time of going to press.

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