Prisoners register

2019-01-30 06:00
Kekeletso Motsekoa (left, IEC registration officer) and Nosipho Nxozi, registration supervisor, assist offenders to register for the 2019 election during a two-day voters’ registration opportunity at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein. Photo: Dan Xangaza

Kekeletso Motsekoa (left, IEC registration officer) and Nosipho Nxozi, registration supervisor, assist offenders to register for the 2019 election during a two-day voters’ registration opportunity at the Mangaung Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein. Photo: Dan Xangaza

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The number of prisoners within correctional facilities in the Free State registered to cast their votes during the 2019 national and provincial elections have multiplied.

The number exceeds that of the number registered for the previous democratic elections held in May 2014.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has been working with correctional services centres in the country to ensure potential voters in prisons do register to vote in the forthcoming elections.

Those registered are part of an average of about 160 000 offenders, including remand detainees in South Africa’s prisons.

The staggering number of offenders registered to vote within prisons in the Free State came to light after completion of registration conducted by the commission in the province. The IEC in the province registered 1 320 offenders in the 27 correctional centres in the Free State over two days, 22 and 23 January, as part of the final voters’ registration campaign for the eagerly-awaited sixth democratic election in South Africa.

In 2014 the commission revealed it had registered 147 prisoners, including remand detainees in the 27 correctional facilities in the province.

In the same year, IEC stats revealed the number of prisoners on the voters’ roll was 29 970. Of that number, 35 were first-time voters who had registered to vote within prisons in the 2014 national and provincial elections.

Mmathabo Rasengane, the IEC’s provincial spokesperson, said the high turn-out of offenders to register to vote in the 2019 showed there was interest among them.

The highest number was registered at the Mangaung correctional facilities (509), followed by Groenpunt (305) and Kroonstad (164).

Rasengane said the commission was yet to determine first-time voters of those registered and how many of them were youth.

She said the completion of voters’ registration paved the way for the IEC to conduct voter education for prisoners across correctional facilities in the province, in line with the plan to educate offenders in prisons in the country.

Rasengane said plans were afoot for starting with voter education while the IEC was awaiting Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the date on which the 2019 elections will be held.

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