Sanef concerned about arrest of Mpumalanga journalist for 'double voting'

2019-05-13 14:45
A voter gets his finger inked at a polling station
A voter gets his finger inked at a polling station. (Guillem Sartorio, AFP)

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) says it is looking into ways to offer legal support to a Mpumalanga community media editor who was arrested last Friday on allegations of double voting.

News24 reported that Ettiene Mare, editor of online digital news agency Suburb.News in the Lowveld, had decided to test the system after another voter claimed she had managed to cast her vote more than once in Barberton.

Mare visited the St Johns polling station in Barberton, where he cast his first vote. He then voted a second time at the Barberton Town Hall. He recorded the whole incident on video, which he posted online.

"In the video, he showed that it was easy to rub off the indelible ink mark on his thumb – a supposed fail-safe system to prevent citizens from voting twice. Mare specifically spoilt this second vote so that it would have no impact on the election results," Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase said in a statement on Monday.

Mare has appeared in the Barberton Magistrate's Court, along with another voter, Malinda Halloway, on charges of contravening Section 88(d), voting more than once; Section 89(i)(a), intentionally making a false statement; and Section 90(2), infringement of secrecy of the Electoral Commission Act, 1996.

READ: Two suspects, including a journalist arrested for vote fraud

Sanef said it was concerned about Mare's arrest.

"Sanef does not believe that journalists are above the law and we are aware of the fact that it is an offence to vote twice. However, it appears that Mare was genuinely operating in the public interest. He resorted to these measures to conclusively test the IEC systems, with the purpose of highlighting possible electoral fraud," Mahlase said.

She added that the fact that he spoilt his second vote was an indication that he was not trying to subvert the voting process.

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