An Independent Electoral Officer begins to count the ballot papers after voting ended at the sixth national general elections. (RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP)
It may take even longer than expected to tally votes after the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced it would conduct a sample audit of results.
The official results were expected to be announced on Saturday.
This comes after at least 19 people were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal for double voting, News24 reported earlier. The announcement came after the DA lodged an objection calling for an audit of all votes.
READ: 19 arrested in KZN for double voting
IEC Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said legally, the commission had seven days in which to announce the results of the elections.
It was confident the exercise would be completed in time to provide assurances of the integrity of the results within this period.
The seven days commence on the first day after elections, he said.
He said the purpose of the audit was to discover the extent of the double voting. Mamabolo said the decision was taken after engaging with political parties on their objections over double voting.
He said the data will be cross-referenced and compared to identify instances of double voting or whether the instances were isolated.
The IEC has ordered the urgent docking of the "zip-zip" scanners to upload information captured relating to voter participation.
"In most voting districts the VEC 4 forms and zip-zips have already been returned to local offices as part of the roll back of materials following the conclusion of counting."
Mamabolo could not be drawn into revealing the extent of the number of double votes, saying it would only be "determined by a scientific process".
The audit, he said, was an assurance cleaning measure to assure South Africans of the integrity of the process.
"The Electoral Commission has also ordered an investigation into the effectiveness of the indelible ink marker pens supplied for the elections. The investigation will be done in conjunction with the CSIR and with the full cooperation and support of the supplier."
READ: Did the IEC purchase low quality marking pens to cut costs
Earlier on Thursday, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa said he suspected foul play. ATM's head of policy Mzwanele Manyi tweeted that a rerun of the elections might be in order given the number of complaints it had received over double voting.
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