Shock claims about 1994 vote

Cape Town - The results of South Africa's first free election were tampered with to boost the tally of three opposition parties, including apartheid's last rulers, excerpts of a book published on Sunday said.

Birth: The Conspiracy to Stop the '94 Election, by former electoral commission official Peter Harris, details the untraceable breach as South Africa waited on the edge of violence as the poll results trickled in.

"The hacker went in between 05:56 and 06:41 on the morning of May 3 and made changes to the vote count of three parties," Harris quotes a forensic investigator as saying in the excerpts published in the Sunday Times.

The right-wing Freedom Front's tally was pushed up by between 2.5% and 4%, and the white minority National Party (NP), which had ruled apartheid South Africa since 1948, rose by around 3%.

The Zulu majority Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), whose supporters had bloody clashes with frontrunners the African National Congress (ANC), went up between 4% and 5%.

Fears of violence

Election officials froze the results, with Harris in his book pointing to fears of violence and swirling rumours as South Africa steered toward democracy under iconic ANC leader Nelson Mandela.

"There is a real concern that with every hour that the country does not receive election results, the potential for violence increases," he wrote, saying reports of violence were coming in.

Newspapers reported people rushing to stock up on foodstuffs and of farmers clustering in fear of being driven off their land by black militias.

"The frozen election results place the country in limbo. Fear feeds on fear and the political mercury rises. The spooks tell us that security forces have been placed on high alert," he wrote.

The final results were eventually announced on May 6, with Mandela's ANC winning 62.6% of the vote, the NP 20.4% and the IFP 10.5%.

Mandela, released in 1990 after 27 years in apartheid prison, was sworn in as president four years later.

The book is due to be released next month.

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