8 October 2008
Recount ballot papers - Court order
By Sabelo Mamba
THE High Court has ordered a recount of ballot papers from Somntongo Constituency in the Shiselweni region.
Judge Stanley Maphalala issued the order following an application brought by an elections candidate, Sandile Nxumalo, who complained about irregularities during the secondary elections under the constituency on September 19.
Nxumalo had, however, applied for an order setting aside the secondary elections for the position of Member of Parliament (MP).
The parties were directed to file a report in court upon completing doing the recount.
The secondary elections under the constituency were won by Doward Sihlongonyane with a difference of 42 votes.
Mbuso Simelane, representing Nxumalo, submitted that the ballot boxes of Vimbizibuko polling station were not properly sealed on the side which houses the padlock .
He said during the counting, the electricity went off, thus there was complete darkness for at least 15 minutes.
Simelane alleged that counted ballot papers were thrown back at the table, thus double counted.
The lawyer also told the court that some officials of the Elections and Boundaries Commission disappeared with the boxes for at least 30 minutes on their way en route to the police station where they were to be kept.
"The returning officer refused to do a recount despite the problem associated with the ballot papers and the temporary darkness in the counting hall," he said.
Ticheme Dlamini, defending the Elections and Boundaries Commission (EBC), admitted that the polling officers ran out of sealing tape.
He argued that there was no need to seal the sides of the ballot boxes.
Dlamini explained that a recount is requested once the whole counting exercise had been completed.
"This means that the applicant should have made the alleged request for a recount after they had finished counting the ballot papers and not anytime sooner," he said.