Lotter puts up brave fight as he takes on IEC, IFP and ANC in Electoral Court

2013-12-05 00:00

AN independent candidate put up a brave fight yesterday when he stood his ground against two high-powered legal teams at the hearing of the Electoral Court in Durban.

Andre Lotter of Vryheid was arguing his case before three judges of the Electoral Court over the by-election that was postponed twice in Abaqulusi Municipality’s Ward 22.

In the other corner were lawyers representing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) and the ANC.

At yesterday’s hearing, held at one of the court rooms of the Durban high court, Lotter appeared in person while the IEC was represented by advocate Paul Kennedy SC assisted by two attorneys.

The ANC sent heavily pregnant attorney Sibu Ngubane to represent the party, while the IFP, as one of the respondents, did not attend the proceedings.

Lotter’s spirited fight was not dampened by the justices Kenneth Mthiyane, Stanley Moshidi and Willem Wepener, who sometimes interrupted him seeking clarity or criticised statements he made before the court.

The former ANC councillor also spared no effort in attacking the ANC, IFP and IEC at every opportunity during his oral submission to the court.

At one point, Judge Kenneth Mthiyane asked him to distinguish from making political points and rather focus on legal arguments.

Yesterday’s hearing followed Lotter’s successful interdict of the Ward 22 by-election in April after he had alleged people who were not resident there were allowed to register. When the Electoral Court heard the matter, it ordered an investigation into the voter registration.

The IEC duly investigated and found scores of voters were not resident at the ward and set a by-election date for August.

But, Lotter later approached the Constitutional Court, which ordered the Electoral Court to consider Lotter’s contention that the investigation was inadequate because it did not impose sanctions on the ANC and IFP, whom he accused of fraudulent voter registration.

At yesterday’s hearing, Lotter accused the IEC of not doing a proper investigation and of passing the responsibility of enforcing the electoral code to the police.

“In their affidavits, they wash their hands in innocence, saying they have given all the necessary information to the police.”

He insisted the IEC did not fully uncover the extent of the fraud as subsequent investigation had found more people not residing in the ward.

“It is one thing to identify perpetrators and the next step is to bring them to book.”

Lotter also accused the IEC of being an electoral machine designed to perpetuate ANC power.

“It should thus be penalised and sanctioned to the fullest,” Lotter said before calling on the Electoral Court to recommend to Parliament the sacking of the current commissioners. He also called for the deregistration of the ANC and IFP from contesting the Ward 22 by-election.

Kennedy said the IEC had complied with the court order to investigate, identify the perpetrators and remove people who were not resident at the ward from the voters’ roll.

“It transferred information to the police to pursue the investigation for prosecution. Only the police can charge and arrest, and then courts impose fines,” Kennedy said.

Ngubane said the IEC investigation was sufficient and that the ruling party was interested in the matter being concluded so that the by-election could be held.

While she did not respond to allegations made by Lotter about the ANC, Ngubane said that did not mean they agreed with them.

KZN electoral officer Mawethu Mosery was in the gallery to watch proceedings.

Judgment was reserved.

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