In an attempt to avert what could potentially be a disaster for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), the police have assured the nation that the 22 people who were arrested on suspicions of attempting to vote more than once were nabbed before they succeeded in their act.
In a media briefing on Friday evening, the police said some of the suspects had started the process of voting for the second time but the verification process stopped them in their tracks with IEC staff at the voting stations managing to confirm that they had voted at other polling stations.
IEC said that as part of its auditing process, it will receive a list of over 1,000 voting stations from the statistician general that will form part of a technical assurance process that will, among other things, look into whether there were people who had voted more than once. This list will then be made available to the political parties.
“The electoral commission further welcomes the findings of a number of international and domestic observer missions that have endorsed our elections as free and fair and broadly reflective of the will of the people,” said vice-chairperson Janet Love.
Twenty-seven political parties lodged a complaint with the commission and had called for a complete re-run of the elections as they believed that people who were suspected to have voted twice contaminated the fairness of the polls. The parties also threatened court action if the commission failed to appoint an independent auditor and review of election results by 11am on Saturday.
Judge Dhaya Pillay, who received the complaints from the parties, said she could not comment on the matter as it was sub-judice but commended the parties for attempting to deal with this matter legally.
It is not clear whether this legal process coupled with the auditing process would affect the announcement of the results scheduled for Saturday. However, the commission spokesperson Kate Bapela had earlier said that they had not ruled out the possibility of postponing the announcement.