Police mum on politicians who encouraged 'double voting'

Police minister Bheki Cele. File picture.
Police minister Bheki Cele. File picture.

While security cluster ministers were touting numbers of ordinary citizens arrested on electoral fraud allegations, they were mum on Monday when asked why no politician had been arrested for encouraging supporters to double-vote.

Police minister Bheki Cele read out an 11-page media statement on behalf of the justice, crime-prevention and security cluster at a media conference on Monday. Among other things, the statement detailed arrests and even named some of the people who were arrested for allegedly attempting to vote twice.

But Cele, together with defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, thwarted questions about the lack of arrests of politicians who had encouraged the alleged voter fraud, with  Mapisa-Nqakula saying it was unfair for journalists to ask politicians about operational matters.

"I think you are being very unfair. It is the responsibility of the police to conduct investigations, it is not the responsibility of the politicians to do so. It is a purely operational matter," she said when asked why politicians who made pronouncements, on live TV, that they had sent members to test the system had not been arrested.

Mapisa-Nqakula added: "Equally, when the decision finally is taken, it will be the National Prosecuting Authority, together with the police, who will take that decision. It will not be the minister of police or any minister.

"For now, it would be totally irresponsible of us to suggest that by virtue of what we are hearing and what we have seen, therefore something is being done."

Cele gave a slightly different response, saying they were aware of a process where statements would be taken, including from politicians who had put themselves in the position of trying to interfere with elections.

National police commissioner Khehla Sitole would also not give a direct answer, only saying that if they found any further criminals - not necessarily politicians - they would effect arrests.

Meanwhile, Cele announced that 28 suspects had been arrested for alleged voter fraud. Twenty were arrested after attempting to vote for a second time in last week's general elections, 19 of them in KwaZulu-Natal. Of the 19, 16 were alleged to have transgressed in Danhauser, two in Hluhluwe and one in Port Shepstone. A 20th suspect was arrested in Douglasdale in Gauteng.

Among those arrested were two people after posting a video claiming that they had cast votes more than once. One of them is journalist Etienne Mare.

Mare and Malinda Halloway appeared before the Barberton Magistrate's Court on charges of contravening the Electoral Act on Friday.

In relation to alleged multiple voting, a total of eight cases were noted, said Cele.

The police minister also revealed that over the past few weeks, three people had been found guilty on charges of defacing and unlawfully removing a billboard. One such case was in Mondlo, KZN, where Sihle Mhlambi was handed a R2,000 fine or two months' imprisonment. On the same charge in Acornhoek, Mpumalanga, Oupa Mohlala was handed a R300 fine.

In Flagstaff, Eastern Cape, 14 suspects were charged with public violence and sentenced to three months' imprisonment.

Cele said the situation in Vuwani with the threats by the pro-Makhado Demarcation Task Team (PMDTT) that no one would vote in the 2019 national and provincial elections were a key concern for the cluster.

"Although incidents were reported in Vuwani during the election with voting stations being closed and then reopened after IEC officials were given assurances that they would be protected, the electoral process was able to proceed. However, the element of intimidation remained," he said.

Cele said a key mitigating factor was the arrest of the spokesman of the PMDTT, Arnold Mulaudzi, on the eve of the elections. Mulaudzi was arrested on charges of contravening the Electoral Act and appeared in the Vuwani Magistrate's Court last Thursday when he was released on R5,000 bail. The case has been postponed to allow for further investigation. He is expected to appear again on June 3.

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