Official sentenced for electoral fraud

An Ulundi election officer on Friday became the first South African since 1994 to be sentenced for electoral fraud.

The eSikhawini Magistrate’s Court found Sindisiwe Mncube guilty on five charges of violating the Electoral Code.

Mncube was arrested after she was caught with illegally marked ballot papers in Ulundi in KwaZulu-Natal, where she was employed as a presiding officer in the general elections on April 22.

The ballots had been marked a day before April 22 in favour of the Inkatha Freedom Party.

She was sentenced to five years for the first four counts, which were fraud, contravening the Electoral Code, putting votes in her jacket and using election material for purposes other than election purpose.

Mncube was also sentenced to three years for corruption, which was suspended for five years.

Delivering judgment on Friday afternoon, magistrate T Ngesi described Mncube as an unreliable individual, saying she contradicted herself during the trial.

“The accused was a poor witness who contradicted herself in her own evidence and cannot distinguish between lies and truth.”

Ngesi said he had looked at the personal circumstances of the accused, the nature of the offence and the interest of the society, before deciding on the sentence.

He said Mncube’s case was the first election case in “our democracy” and the public at large were interested in the outcome.

“It is not only the South African public that is interested, but international public as well, since our democracy enjoys respect internationally. The interest of the people far outweighs the individual interests,” said Ngesi.

He said the elections were an important institution of democracy that should be respected at all costs.

“Our democracy was obtained through loss of innocent lives, and some of our people had to spend their lifetime in prison. So it is the duty of our people to protect our democracy, and she undermined it.”

The magistrate said it was clear that Mncube was not alone in committing fraud, but “unfortunately was the only one brought to book because she failed to expose others”.

Before the sentence was announced, Mncube’s lawyer, Vusumuzi Sibiya, pleaded with the court to consider that Mncube had two children to support.

There were scenes of joy among African National Congress (ANC) members who packed the court gallery.

ANC chairperson in the Ulundi region, Mukhawuleni Khumalo, said he was happy with the sentence.

“We have finally proved that there are a lot of fraudulent votes in Ulundi. We believe that we will now win the elections in Ulundi since this practice has been exposed.”—Sapa

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