Ulundi presiding officer to appear in court for electoral fraud

A presiding officer in Ulundi arrested for electoral fraud will appear at Empangeni Regional Court on Thursday.

The officer was charged for forgery and violating the electoral Act after she allegedly stuffed a ballot box with papers marked in favour of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

Party agents found ballot papers had already been marked before voting could start at the B South polling station.

KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson, Director Phindile Radebe, said the officer had been charged for forgery and violating Electoral Act’s section 91 (B and D).

IEC officials at the Ulundi polling station said an envelope that was supposed to contain 53 special votes had been found with 104 votes inside.

Another batch of about 100 ballot papers was found marked in the IFP’s favour.

Radebe said ballot boxes and ballot papers were being transported from Ekhombe to Nkandla on Tuesday night.

However, when the delivery arrived in Nkandla at 8pm two ballot boxes were missing. On Wednesday morning it was reported to police that a person was in possession of completed ballot papers and busy slipping them into the ballot boxes.

KwaZulu-Natal safety minister Bheki Cele said he was called to intervene after marked papers sealed in an envelope had been found.

”There was another batch of about 100 on top of the ones sealed in an envelope. The presiding officer has been arrested because what she has done is a criminal offence and she has been charged,” said Cele in Ulundi.

The African National Congress (ANC) and the Congress of the People (Cope) were shocked at the finds.

”Politically motivated elements desperate to discredit the IFP” may be behind the Ulundi incident, the IFP said in a statement. The party distanced itself from the incident.

”The IFP condemns in the strongest terms any electoral irregularities,” said IFP national organiser Albert Mncwango.

He said the IEC was responsible for ensuring the security of ballot papers and had to explain how ballots got into criminal hands.

”The IFP is deeply concerned that if ballots have not been kept securely, they may have got into the hands of politically motivated elements desperate to discredit the IFP,” said Mncwango.

ANC provincial secretary Senzo Mchunu said his party was disturbed by what appeared to be a planned effort in an area that used to be a IFP stronghold.

”What we find rather ironic, though, is that only yesterday it was IFP President Mangosuthu Buthelezi who accused the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, comrade Sbu Ndebele, of stuffing ballot boxes with false ballot papers,” said Mchunu.

He said he was appalled that Buthelezi had failed to condemn the incident. — Sapa

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