Molefe Seeletsa

Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

2024 elections: Two arrested for tampering with ballot boxes in Mpumalanga – IEC

The IEC assured that the special votes were not compromised.

Two people have been arrested for allegedly tampering with ballot boxes at two voting stations in Mpumalanga, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) has confirmed.

The first day of special votes for this year’s national and provincial elections commenced on Monday, but not without challenges.

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It is alleged IEC officials were accosted by a group of people at voting stations in the Steve Tshwete and Chief Albert Luthuli municipalities.

Ballot boxes unsealed

Mpumalanga IEC’s communication and stakeholder liaison, Thanduxolo Chembeni, revealed the first incident took place in the town of Hendrina, where officials were blocked by a group demanding to take pictures of the ballot boxes.

“They were allowed to [take pictures], but all of a sudden one person from the group grabbed the ballot box by force, and in the process broke the seal and ballot papers in envelopes fell on the ground,” he told eNCA.

ALSO READ: First day of special votes goes well everywhere – except Eastern Cape

Chembeni assured that the special votes were not compromised.

“Fortunately nobody took any ballot paper because they were reconciled and found to be equal to the number of people voted on the list,” the IEC official explained.

“Those ballots will be counted because a meeting took place with the local party liaising committee to explain the situation and all of them were satisfied because… there was no tampering with the envelopes themselves to show that they were opened,” Chembeni added.

Chembeni confirmed the arrest of two people, while another is being looked at by the South African Police Service (Saps).

In the second incident, IEC officials were obstructed by a group of people demanding the ballot boxes, leading to a scuffle that required police intervention, EWN reported.

“Then police came and defused the situation, and the ballot boxes were taken care of and were delivered safely to the overnight storage,” Chembeni said.

IEC to increase security

On Tuesday, IEC’s deputy chief electoral officer (CEO) for electoral operations, Masego Sheburi, stated in an interview with Newzroom Afrika that the commission would increase security visibility where ballot boxes and other election material were stored.

More police officers will also be deployed, according to Sheburi.

The beefing up of security comes after the delivery of voting materials in Hammarsdale, KwaZulu-Natal, was disrupted by people claiming to represent a certain political party over the weekend.

Videos of the incident circulated on social media, with some people – including uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party member, Duduzile Zuma-Sambudla – alleging vote rigging.

In another incident, an official was taken from their home at night to check the bulk election material stored at the Baptist Church voting station in Chesterville. Both matters have been referred to the police.

NOW READ: ‘Our storage facilities were never intended to deal with a mob’ – IEC on MK party ‘vote rigging’ claims