Cape mom advised to open fraud case after being registered to vote in Pakistan

Michelle Matthee lodged a complaint and dispute with the IEC after she was refused her right to vote when she was told she had been registered in Islamabad in Pakistan. Picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

Michelle Matthee lodged a complaint and dispute with the IEC after she was refused her right to vote when she was told she had been registered in Islamabad in Pakistan. Picture: Leon Lestrade/Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 16, 2024


Cape Town - A Cape Town mother who was refused her right to vote after being told she was registered in Islamabad in Pakistan has been advised by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to take the matter further criminally.

On the day of the elections, 41-year-old Michelle Matthee and her husband had visited the voting station at Table View Primary School where they have been voting for more than a decade.

But on May 29, Matthee was told by officials that she had been registered to vote in Pakistan, a country where she had never set foot.

Matthee immediately lodged a complaint and dispute with the IEC and received feedback on June 1.

“I was informed by the officials present that I was registered to vote in Islamabad, Pakistan, a country I have never visited,” she said. “I had checked my registration details weeks prior, and these were correct.

“However, the day before the election and on the election day itself, my details were inexplicably changed to reflect Islamabad, Pakistan, as my voting station.”

An angry Matthee said she even made a virtual check on the Home Affairs website to see if any fraud had been committed and found everything to be in order.

Next she made contact with the DA's portal and was told she was registered to vote at Table View Primary School.

“I have never been to the Middle East at all, I've been to America in the beginning of the year and I was in the Mediterranean and Paris last year.

“My address has not changed.

“I reached out to the DA on their social pages and Facebook and I said this must have been a mistake. They checked on their side, where its showed I am registered in Table View.

“I could understand if I was told I had to go to another voting station, but this is in another country. I was advised to fill in an objection.

“My husband had noted when he voted that my name had not shown on the voters roll.

“I even asked the IEC officials to check under my maiden surname, but they kept saying I am registered in Pakistan. I said I have my passport with me, I am here and I do not have any visas to be in Pakistan.”

Matthee said she is unhappy with IEC's feedback so far and demotivated.

“This incident resulted in the denial of my constitutional right to vote, a fundamental right protected under section 19 of the Constitution.

“This infringement not only affects me, but potentially undermines the integrity of the electoral process.

“I am deeply concerned about how many other South Africans might have been similarly disenfranchised.”

The Weekend Argus approached the IEC on the number of people affected as Matthee was, but they said they could not divulge this.

In their letter of response, the commission said: “The Commission's records indicate that, while you are ordinarily registered to vote at the Table View Primary School voting station, at 06h33 on 26 January 2024, a notice in terms of s33(3) was processed on the portal from Islamabad by a user linked to the email address [email protected], giving notice that you would be absent from the Republic on voting day and giving notice that you would vote at the SA High Commission in Islamabad.

“As a result of this, the Commission's records were amended to show that you would cast a special vote in Islamabad, and your name did not appear on the segment of the voters roll for the Table View Primary School voting station.

“The Commission notes your contention that you have never been to Islamabad but has not been able to determine the identity of the person behind the mentioned.

“We recommend that you report the matter to the SAPS for investigation and that you furnish the Commission with a sworn statement dealing with the matter so that the Commission can, after the elections, conduct a further investigation.”

David Mandaha of the National Office for the IEC’s Communications said Matthee needed to open a criminal case.

“If you note in the letter, she has to follow the procedure which is stipulated, the IEC cannot take the matter further. This is a criminal matter.”

Matthee said she intended to open a criminal case but had wanted to give the IEC a fair chance to rectify it. ”I do not even know if a vote was cast using my identity number and the IEC seems reluctant to provide me with an audit trail.”

Grant Twigg, DA provincial IEC liaison, said they were informed of Matthee’s case.

“After she contacted the party, we assisted Ms Matthee in escalating this issue to the IEC, and are aware of the response that she received, which indicated that she should take up the matter with SAPS if fraud was suspected,” he said.

Ward councillor Sue van der Linde also stepped in to help.

“I was made aware of the voter’s issues, and the sub-council chair advised her of a course of action which I see she has followed.”

Matthew du Plessis of the South African Human Rights Commission said it’s best for Matthee to take the matter further.

“The complainant should therefore also follow the other provisions of the act, specifically section 55(5), which requires an aggrieved complainant to approach the Electoral Court in such instances,” he said.