Journalist who voted twice did it in the public interest: editors' forum
While it was a fact that casting two votes in the elections was a crime, the SA National Editors Forum said that the Mpumalanga journalist who did so was doing it in the interest of the public.
Journalist Etienne Mare was arrested after he took a video depicting how he managed to bypass the system and vote twice in two different locations.
"Mare posted a video online claiming that he was on his way to vote for a second time after hearing from a female voter that she had been able to vote several times. He wanted to test the IEC's voting systems. In the video he showed that it was easy to rub off the indelible ink mark on his thumb – a supposed fail-safe system to prevent citizens from voting twice.
"Mare specifically spoilt this second vote so that it would have no impact on the election results," said Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase in a statement.
Both Mare and the female voter who tipped him about the system's flaws were arrested and both appeared in the Barberton magistrate's court on Friday.
They faced charges of contravening Section 88(d) of the Electoral Act by allegedly voting more than once, Section 89(i)(a) for allegedly intentionally making a false statement and Section 90(2) for alleged infringement of secrecy.
"Sanef does not believe that journalists are above the law and we are aware of the fact that it is an offence to vote twice. However, it appears that Mare was genuinely operating in the public interest. He resorted to these measures to conclusively test the IEC systems with the purpose of highlighting possible electoral fraud," said Mahlase.
"The fact that he spoilt his second vote is an indication of the fact that he was not trying to subvert the voting process," she added.
Sanef said it was exploring options of how to offer legal support.