The Electoral Court in Bloemfontein has passed judgment on an application to postpone by-elections in Tlokwe.
The Electoral Court ruled in favour of the six independent candidates that were disqualified by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Tlokwe, in the North West, on Tuesday. However the by-elections have been postponed for six of the nine wards that were meant to go to the polls on Wednesday. No decision has been made yet on when the six wards will hold their by-elections.
The court was hearing an application by five independent candidates who were disqualified from taking part in the by-elections by the IEC.
The IEC disqualified six independent candidates, all of them former ANC councillors, from participating, saying they did not meet the required threshold of nominations.
According to the requirements, 50 ward residents whose names appear on the voters' roll, need to nominate a candidate.
One of the disqualified candidates, Johannes Johnson, of Ward 13, had since been permitted to take part, after it was discovered that he had a valid nomination.
Gerhard Ackerman, for the five, submitted that the case was unique.
"They relied on the word of respondent two [IEC official John Makodi] to let them know if anything was wrong," submitted Ackerman.
'Bigger picture for Tlokwe'
He told the court Makodi had not told the independent candidates that there was anything wrong with their applications.
"He checked their documents," Ackerman said.
Ackerman submitted that Makodi, on his own version, accepted documents from the applicants.
"But now he denies. He had not looked at it," he said.
Ackerman said there was some indication of a possible irregularity in the facts of the case.
"There is not going to be fair election," he said. Ackerman asked the three judges to postpone the elections in the "interest of the bigger picture for Tlokwe".
Ackerman also suggested a further investigation into the Makodi's conduct.
Paul Kennedy, for the IEC, submitted it could not be expected from an IEC official to do everything for a prospective candidate.
"They are not there to spoonfeed," he said.
He said if an IEC official helped some candidates and not others, this would amount to moving to the "slippery slope" of partiality.
Kennedy argued that the new councillors' applications did not meet all the set requirements.
Kennedy asked the court to reject the applicants' argument that the IEC official had to help them with their applications.
"There is no legal obligation," he said, adding that the application papers were incomplete.
The ANC expelled 14 councillors in July after a provincial disciplinary committee found them guilty of misconduct for participating in a motion of no confidence against the then Tlokwe mayor Maphetle Maphetle.
Democratic Alliance councillor Annette Combrink replaced Maphetle.
While the ANC's national disciplinary committee later said it had overturned the provincial disciplinary committee's decision, the party said none of the 14 councillors were on its list of candidates for the by-election.
It was reported in August that eight of the councillors registered independently with the IEC for the by-election. –additional reporting by Staff Reporter