On the 8th of May, many were ready to go and exercise their democratic right by voting for the party they feel best represents them. Over 26 million people registered to vote. Unfortunately, a citizen from the Northern Cape was denied the opportunity to do the same.
A 37-year-old student at Moremogolo College in Kimberley, who prefers to remain anonymous, was denied her right to vote. She left Kimberley on the national election day to go home to Warrenton as she wanted to vote where she felt her voice mattered most. Upon arriving at voting station number 65470021, at about 14h30 in the afternoon, her identity document was scanned and she was given a ticket as per normal voting procedure. Things changed when she entered the voting station and showed the IEC official her thumb. On her thumb was a trace of inedible ink from when she went to vote at the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections at her school. She was in the running to become a member of the SRC at her college. She says that she explained to the official where the trace of the inedible ink came from and that it was taken over two weeks prior to the national election day, “Those of us interested in the SRC election process at Moremogolo College got our thumbs inked as a sign that we had cast our vote for the next incoming SRC candidates. The SRC election procedure was done by the Independent Electoral Facilitators and it was per their mandate that we got inked with indelible ink,” she explained.
The Presiding officer was then asked to intervene and he also denied her the right to vote because of the trace of inedible ink. She filled in the VEC 7 form to lay a complaint regarding what happened to her. The Project Electoral Co-Ordinator said that he could not over rule the presiding officer’s judgement. She wanted to take her complaint up to the National Office in Pretoria however she felt that even if she did that it would not change the fact that she missed her chance to vote, “I was deeply saddened by the fact that my democratic right was so easily taken away from me. It was clear that the ink was old as it was already halfway up my nail. What made matters worse was that the officials weren’t even prepared to listen to me or to assist me with my matter. Because I knew that the mark on my nail was from a prior and completely separate voting instance, I confidently went to vote for the party of my choice as it was so unrelated to the previous voting I did,” she continued.
Other students that took part in the SRC elections in Kimberley said they were not given any hassles at the voting stations they went to. They explained the reason they had traces of inedible ink and they were freely allowed to continue voting. Lemogang Moshewu, a 23-year-old student from the same college and who is also a prospective SRC candidate told us about her experience, “We were slightly concerned about how the indelible ink from our SRC elections would affect our national election voting but we went anyway as it is our right to do so. Voting for the SRC elections is something we had to do, especially those of us who are candidates. Our SRC elections took place on the 24th of April, which was a good 13 days before the national elections. We thought that by the 8th of May our inedible ink would possibly have worn off but by the time national election voting came, there was just a mere trace of it left”.
The lady felt very dismayed by the fact that she could not place her vote even though she tried to explain why the inedible ink was there. “I don’t understand why my peers were granted the opportunity to vote but I was not. I feel robbed”.
Moshewu said she was also disappointed in the way things turned out as she was really looking forward to the elections, and she got to vote so it made no sense to her why her peer was denied her democratic right. The fact that her name was not ticked off and that she didn’t sign up for special votes hurt her because besides the trace of the ink she feels there was no reason for them not to believe that she had voted elsewhere.
“I walked into the voting station with so much confidence, I did not try to hide the trace of the inedible ink. If I was malicious I could have simply painted my nails and gone to vote however I did not see any reason for this as I had nothing to hide,’ she said. Mr Mojo Lefasa who was the facilitator for the SRC elections on the 24th of April at Moremogolo confirmed that they used inedible ink to mark students thumbs.
Mr Elkin Topkin said that the voter presented herself at the voting station and had a mark of inedible ink and the presiding officer could not give her a ballot to cast her vote. Mr Olebile Gainer called the Sol Platjie University to try and confirm if inedible ink was used by them and they said no. The voter however was a student of Moremogolo and not Sol Plaatjie University. The officer he said was acting within procedure as it was alleged that the quality of the inedible ink was already being questioned. “Sorry the voter was turned away however he can not fault the presiding officer,” he said.