South Africa's 2019 elections logo Picture: Palesa Dlamini
Twenty-one suspects are expected to appear before the Ganyesa Magistrate's Court on Thursday for contravening parts of the Electoral Act after they allegedly torched the vehicle of an IEC official.
"Ten female and 11 male suspects were arrested and are expected to appear in court on Thursday, May 9, on charges of Contravention of Section 87(1)(e)(i)(vi) of the Electoral Act, 1998 (Act No.73 of 1998), malicious damage to property and robbery," said police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone in a statement on Tuesday.
This comes after the 21 suspects are alleged to have torched the vehicle of an electoral commission (IEC) officer on Monday in the North West where special votes were held.
"According to information available at this stage, reports suggest that the area manager and another official were driving separately in their vehicles, of which one was loaded with IEC voting material.
"They were allegedly stopped by members of the community who robbed the pair of their cellphones before setting the two vehicles alight, both of which were damaged as a result," said Mokgwabone.
Police arrived and escorted the officials in transporting the damaged voting material. The police vehicles were pelted with stones along the way.
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The suspects, aged between 17 and 41, were arrested in the Mmadinonyane village near Ganyesa following investigations that were launched after the incident.
Chairperson of the Provincial Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure and the provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane have condemned the incident in the "strongest possible terms" and sent out a further warning to those who intended on disrupting the elections.
"Barricading of roads, restricting or preventing of access to voting stations, inciting violence, damaging infrastructure, intimidation and assault among other acts, constitute conduct prohibited by law and those who commit any of these acts will be arrested and face legal consequences," Motswenyane said.
The provincial commissioner assured all South Africans heading to the polls on Wednesday that "security forces will be deployed in their numbers to ensure that citizens can exercise their constitutional rights in a safe and secure environment".
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