Home South African Ballot paper selfie: 20 people arrested across Gauteng for flouting electoral laws

Ballot paper selfie: 20 people arrested across Gauteng for flouting electoral laws

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Lieutenant General Tommy Mthombeni said after casting their votes, some people would use phones to take pictures of the marked ballot – which is prohibited.

Gauteng police provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Tommy Mthombeni. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

POLICE in Gauteng have arrested at least 20 people in connection with election-related crimes, as the law enforcement agents seek to maintain peace after the voting and throughout the collating of the votes.

A day after the voting process, Gauteng police provincial commissioner, Lieutenant General Tommy Mthombeni said the number of people arrested for election-related crimes has increased to 20 – from the time President Cyril Ramaphosa proclaimed the election date.

“Indeed it was a little bit challenging in terms of ensuring that the communities are, and feel safe, but we were in a position to restore order. I can confirm that since our last update, the number of the cases reported has indeed gone up and currently we are having 20 within the province,” Mthombeni said in an interview with the SABC.

“Those suspects have been arrested.”

He indicated that some of the people were arrested for taking pictures with their ballot papers, which is an offence.

“You know that the voting process was under way recently, and some of the cases, for example, you find that a particular individual casts his vote, and after casting his vote, they then takes a picture – which is prohibited.

“Some of the issues are some typical cases of intolerance by the voters where they ended up in a scuffle, and then they fight. Ultimately, one of the voters will approach the police and open a case. Those are some of the cases which we have picked up recently,” Mthombeni told the national broadcaster.

On the eve of the election day, the Electoral Commission of South Africa reminded voters to avoid taking pictures of their marked ballot papers.

“Voters are reminded that it is an offence to take and/or publish photographs that reveal a person’s vote on a ballot paper. The purpose of this law is to maintain the secrecy of your vote and the privacy of others. It is crucial to understand this regulation in the context of its purpose: to protect vulnerable voters from coercion.

“For instance, workers could be ordered to photograph their marked ballots in exchange for favours, or a party might demand such images in return for money or food parcels. To safeguard the integrity of our electoral process and ensure that every vote is free from undue influence, wait until you have left the voting station before sharing a selfie,” the IEC said in a message shared on social media platform X.

As the election results were trickling in on Thursday morning, early indications showed that former president Jacob Zuma’s fledgling Umkhonto we Sizwe party was giving the ANC a bloody nose in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, standing a chance to reduce the ruling party’s majority, if not take the province.

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