28 May 2008
By Starsky Mkhonta
TWO clerks and a police officer have been questioned over the past two days - following the mysterious disappearance of a voter registration book.
The three have been questioned by the Shiselweni regional police. It is not clear whether they will be charged or not.
The registration book was used in Mbabala chiefdom in the Shiselweni region. The area is embroiled in a chieftaincy dispute.
It is suspected that the missing book could be a result of the dispute.
The two registration clerks are Nothando Hlatshwako and Khanya Hlatshwako, while the police officer was identified as Constable President Nhlengetfwa.
It is said the booklet went missing on Sunday but it was not until Monday that the box where it was supposed to be locked in was brought to the umphakatsi empty.
It was said all hell broke loose when the discovery was made. This was after senior police officers arrived at the Umphakatsi and started castigating the junior police for being irresponsible for the missing book.
Normally, at the end of each day, the booklet is thrown into a locked trunk box and taken to the police station where it is kept in the armoury room until the following morning.
“Yesterday (Monday), when the registration process was to commence, it was discovered that the trunk box was empty. This was shortly after the officer had been driven to the registration centre. When the driver of the vehicle that brought him was stopped to check the book, it was not there. It was then that the top brass were alerted,” said one of the insiders at the umphakatsi.
It still remains unclear who actually had access to the armoury where the boxes are locked and as to how the trunk box was taken to the umphakatsi without realising that it had been tempered with.
The senior officers drove him to the regional headquarters together with the clerks.
He was also dispossessed of the service rifle.
Yesterday, the registration at the umphakatsi did not take off; instead the area was a centre of police activity who were busy with investigations.
Gordon Mbuli, responsible for the registration in the Shiselweni region, confirmed yesterday that the booklet went missing but by yesterday it had been recovered. He did not want to go into specifications when pressed further as to what had actually transpired.
“My only relief is that the registration booklet has been found,” he said. He said when it was recovered it had not been tempered with.
Shiselweni Regional Administrator Paul Dlamini said he was still to be briefed about the matter.
In the region, since the registration process started the disappearance of the booklet is the second incident to cause hiccups. Last Tuesday, at Zombodze Emuva residents found the area littered with pamphlets belittling the election process.