Go-ahead for patients and prisoners to vote

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

The Independent Electoral Commission in Kwazulu-Natal says patients in hospitals and prison inmates will vote in this year's elections.

This after the IEC held joint workshops with the departments of health and correctional services in the province to ensure patients and prisoners exercised their constitutional right.

The IEC has visited hospitals and correctional service facilities to ensure that officials are equipped to assist people who will be in those facilities on election day.

KwaZulu-Natal electoral officer Mawethu Mosery said they will dispatch officials to help those in hospitals to register to vote. The sick will be given priority due to their inability to go to voting stations on election day.

"We have a special programme for prisoners in correctional facilities. We will begin with voter education and then register them. Come election day, we will help them to cast their votes. This programme will also include awaiting trial prisoners," he said.

Mosery, however, stressed that those who will be in SAPS holding cells will not have the privilege of voting.

"We will not visit police cells but correctional services centres only. We have about 40 of them in KwaZulu-Natal," he said.

Mosery said disabled people who cannot go to the polling stations to register or to vote will also qualify for the special programme.

"Such people should write letters asking us to assist them in their homes. There are forms that they need to fill in," said Mosery.

He said they were pleased by the reception they received at the two government departments.

"We are happy about the cooperation we received. We will be able to help people exercise their democratic right to choose a government of their choice," he said.

KwaZulu-Natal chairman of the Justice for Prisoners and Detainees Organisation for Human Rights, Derrick Mdluli, applauded the IEC initiative.

"It will be hard to deal with people in police cells but not those in correctional facilities," he said.