Johannesburg - Flipping a coin to decide on a winning candidate in case of a tie in an election is "standard practice", the Independent Electoral Commission said on Tuesday.
"Yes, it happened and is standard practice," IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said.
She said the Local Government: Municipal Structures Act, No 117 of 1998, made provision for the flipping of a coin in case of a tie between ward candidates to decide the winning candidate.
"Schedule 1, Section 8(2) determines that: In each ward the candidate who receives the most votes is the elected councillor for that ward. In the event of two or more candidates receiving an equal number of votes, the result will be determined by lot," she said in an e-mailed response to questions from Sapa.
The Municipal Structures Act, which is posted on the IEC's website, states that if two candidates receive the same number of votes, "a further meeting must be held within seven days at a time determined by the person presiding".
"If at the further meeting... only two candidates are nominated, or if only two candidates remain after an elimination procedure has been applied, and those two candidates receive the same number of votes, the person presiding at such meeting must determine by lot who of the two candidates will hold the office for which the election has taken place," states the Act.
The Sowetan and The Star newspapers reported on Tuesday that Limpopo councillor Isaiah Mabonyane, who was an independent candidate in Mutale, outside Thohoyandou, got the same number of votes, 823, as ANC candidate Sarah Rambuda.
"The (IEC) official told me to rather resolve the impasse by spinning a coin to determine who the winner should be," Mabonyane told the Sowetan.
He said he would not accept that and would rather have another election. But, said Mabonyane, Rambuda tossed her coin, won and was declared councillor.
"I could not sell the souls of the people who had voted for me by tossing a coin," he said.
Bapela said the IEC had "no knowledge" of Mabonyane being contacted by an IEC official and that the commission had "applied the law as required".