The Electoral Commission said in a media release that it is with grave concern that they note the rising levels of violence and intimidation which are characterising political and campaign activities ahead of the 2016 Municipal Elections.
Incidents of what appear to be politically-motivated murders, assaults and other forms of intimidation of candidates have been reported across a number of provinces including Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal. Mpumalanga and the North West over the past few days.
The Electoral Commission condemns in the strongest possible terms all unlawful conduct and any behaviour which contravenes the Electoral Code of Conduct and undermines our democratic process of free and fair elections.
Violence, intimidation, destruction of property and intolerance have no place in a country with a Constitution based on respect for human rights, the rule of law and democracy. That some of these acts are being carried out under the guise of “defending democratic processes” is all the more shameful and incongruent with our democracy.
The Electoral Commission calls on all political leaders and candidates to speak out strongly against any conduct which undermines the conditions conducive to free and fair elections and especially the involvement of any of their members and supporters in such actions. Political leaders are ultimately responsible for the conduct of their supporters and members.
The Electoral Commission also reminds all political parties, candidates and voters that infringements of the Code of Conduct carry severe penalties including disqualification from elections. Any criminal conduct may lead to prosecution and penalties including fines and jail terms.
Any alleged criminal conduct should immediately be reported to the nearest police station. To help the Electoral Commission monitor and track investigations, those who report cases to the police are urged to email the case number and information to the Electoral Commission on email@example.com.
Aggrieved parties themselves also have a key role to play in taking allegations of violations of the Code of Conduct to the Electoral Court which has wide ranging powers to impose severe penalties that will send a strong message to those parties and persons that seek to render the Code of Conduct toothless.
Members of the public may approach the Electoral Court directly on 051 412 7400 to report violations of the Code of Conduct.
ISSUED BY THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION