Stolen ballot papers which were recovered in Soweto, Johannesburg will not be used in this week’s local government elections, the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) said on Monday.
“Those ballots, we knew which ballot papers were affected because of the systems we have put in place. We know wherever they were destined to. We have made arrangements for replacement ballots,” IEC chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya told reporters at the national results operations centre in Tshwane.
“We are dealing with that situation. In fact, special voting is taking place in both wards 29 and 31 as if nothing has happened. Those (recovered) ballots will not play any role in this election.”
Moepya said the police recovered some of the stolen ballot papers while some were burnt.
“The matter is being dealt with by the police accordingly. We are very satisfied, that situation has been handled well. Great thanks to the police for the work they have done,” said Moepya.
Last week, the IEC said ballot boxes containing material for the August 3 local government elections were stolen from a delivery vehicle in Diepkloof, Soweto.
The boxes, stolen on Thursday night, contained ballot papers for wards 29 and 31 in Johannesburg.
“It is unlikely that the perpetrators were aware the boxes contained ballot papers as the vehicles and boxes are unmarked. However, as part of our security measures, each ballot book has a unique serial number allowing the Electoral Commission to identify exactly which ballots are affected and to quarantine these immediately,” the IEC said at the time.
A police investigation into the theft of the ballot papers was continuing.
The first special votes in the August 2016 local government elections were cast on Monday, marking the beginning of the tightly-contested polls.
Despite encountering several problems, Moepya said the first day of the two day special voting process got off to a smooth start.
“In a very few instances, special voting was briefly delayed and in some cases had still not got underway by 11am due to a variety of reasons,” said Moepya.
The reasons for the delays included vehicle accidents involving IEC staff, incorrect ballot papers delivered to voting stations, and community protests.
“A few voting stations reported opening late or were still not open at 11am today (Monday) due to community action which was preventing election staff gaining access to these areas – including due to trenches being dug to prevent vehicular access,” said Moepya.
“These (places) included Ward 8 in Ratlou in the North West; Ward 11 in Emfuleni and Ward 16 in Midvaal, Gauteng; Ward 1 in Umzimkhulu in KwaZulu-Natal; Ward 19 in Mbizana, and Ward 6 and Ward 16 in Ntabankulu in the Eastern Cape.”
The IEC said special voting in the volatile Vuwani area in Limpopo was only set to start on Tuesday due to the small number of only 32 applications for special votes approved in the area.