Elections 2024: Two arrested over electoral interference in Mpumalanga, KZN cases under investigation

Published May 28, 2024


The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) says the police have arrested at least two suspects for alleged interference of electoral processes in the Mpumalanga province, while incidences in KZN were still under investigation.

This comes after at least three incidents - two in Durban at Chesterville and Hammarsdale, and a third incident in Hendrina, Mpumalanga, where two members of a political party were arrested after they allegedly interfered with the work of the IEC.

In Hendrina, Mpumalanga, two suspects who allegedly forcibly handled a ballot box and interfered with election material were arrested and a third suspect was said to be on the run.

In Chesterville, where members of a political party are alleged to have stormed the home of a presiding officer at the weekend and demanded answers in the middle of the night, the matter was still under investigation by the police, along with the Hammarsdale storage facility unlawful entry matter.

IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo said one of three suspects in the Hendrina matter was still on the run and two had been arrested.

“We further welcome all interventions made by our law enforcement agencies. Two arrests have been effected and at least two cases are being investigated by SAPS for interference with electoral processes,” said Mamabolo.

ActionSA’s national chairperson Michael Beaumont applauded the IEC for “pretty definitive case management”.

“Ballot boxes were being moved in accordance with rules but (IEC officials) were accosted by MK representatives during which some of the seals were broken,” he said.

Beaumont said they understood the votes were not perceived to be compromised. He said the matter would be dealt at the Provincial PLC on Wednesday.

In another incident, supporters of the Umkhonto Wesizwe (MK) Party stormed an IEC storage facility in Hammarsdale, Durban, on Saturday and recorded a video at the facility claiming IEC officials were part of a voter fraud racket.

The IEC said police investigations were still ongoing on that matter and no arrests had been made.

The IEC and the police through the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) also dismissed allegations made by the MK on Monday.

Undermining free and fair elections

Mamabolo said on Tuesday that there were co-ordinated attempts to undermine the fairness of the election.

“There is a clear orchestration to undermine the outcome of the freeness and the fairness of the election.

“There is a clear orchestrated endeavour to say the election could not have been free and fair.

“We want to be resolute and protect the integrity of the election.

“The South African people have entrusted us with that responsibility on our shoulders. We have to act in a manner where we do not let the ball drop,” said Mamabolo.

Mamabolo said attempts to discredit the election included persistent following of authorized vehicles contracted by the IEC which were carrying voter material and also unlawfully entering the storage site without permission, which he said was electoral interference.

“The representatives of a political party followed our presiding officer as he was taking the used ballot boxes to the storage site.

“They handled and interfered with the box, and no member of a political party may do that .

“They are free to object and raise objections, but they are not allowed to handle election material, hence why they were arrested,” said Mamabolo.

Regarding the incident in Chesterville, where a presiding officer was woken up at night and was made to “account”, he slammed the behaviour as it “undermined the human dignity of the presiding officer”.

“Again the followers of a political party went to a home under the cover of darkness, woke him up and said he must account about bulk material, which was an egregious offence,” said Mamabolo.

IOL has reached out to the MK party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndhlela to seek comment from the organisation.

He was not available on his phone when called on Tuesday.

This story will be updated once he has commented.

However on Monday, he said: “The MK party has observed with grave concern a series of incidents that significantly undermine the integrity of the electoral process in South Africa.

“Notably, members of the MK party stationed in Mpumalanga Township, Hammarsdale, reported a suspicious truck entering the area on 25 May 2024. “This vehicle was loaded with critical voting materials, including approximately 400 ballot boxes and scanners, which are alleged to be intended for ANC members in the area,” said Ndhlela.

On the Chesterville matter he said “sealed boxes of voting materials were found and seized by the police, which were also intended for ANC members”.

“This series of events points to a systemic problem that not only threatens the democratic fabric of our nation but affirms the MK Party's long-held view that the IEC is partisan towards Cyril Ramaphosa's ANC by allowing the rigging of elections, including in the 2019 elections when Ramaphosa was controversially elected as SA President,” said Ndhlela.

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* This story has been updated to correct the number of people arrested.