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Durban - Allegations of fraud have reared their head in Chatsworth, with the DA and two residents filing criminal complaints accusing the Minority Front (MF) of using “dirty tactics” in the run-up to the hotly contested by-election this week.
Prashant Teekalall and his mother, Boowanthee, two former MF supporters who have switched their allegiance to the DA, alleged on Sunday that MF party agents had taken them from their home in Shallcross (ward 71) and forced them to register in Chatsworth’s ward 73.
Teekalall said he had gone along with the MF’s demands because they had promised to help him apply for a disability grant.
“They said that if I did not do it, they would not help me. They have all my medical files with them and if I did not do it I would not get them back.”
The MF has vehemently denied the allegations.
Its spokesman, Patrick Pillay, said the DA was “scraping the bottom of the barrel” to win votes.
“We would never do something so stupid. These allegations are unfounded. We are running a clean, very positive campaign in Chatsworth.
“The MF has championed the rights of people in Chatsworth as we live among them and don’t just come into the area when it is election time.
“The DA is running scared and that is why it is scraping the bottom of the barrel.”
This is the latest in a growing list of incidents that have marred the campaign for this Wednesday’s by-election as the ANC and the DA are going all-out to snatch the ward from the MF.
The seat in ward 73 carries great significance for parties lobbying for the Indian vote as it is the area where the late MF leader, Amichand Rajbansi, lived.
Last week, the DA filed charges against ANC members, including candidate Logan Chetty, after one of its members claimed to have been assaulted by ANC members while campaigning at the Ays Memorial Primary School.
The by-election, one of four taking place in eThekwini this week, was sparked by the defection of MF councillor Ronnie Pillay to the DA.
On Sunday, Teekalall, accompanied by DA MP Dianne Kohler Barnard and DA KZN leader Sizwe Mchunu, Pillay and a host of other DA members, filed complaints of fraud against the MF at the Chatsworth police station.
The DA lodged its own complaint against the MF.
Teekalall said he and his mother were fetched from their home on May 31 and taken first to the memorial primary school.
He said when Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials asked for proof of their addresses, they were driven by the MF to another voting station.
“But there were DA members there and then they said we should go to Belvedere Primary school. We were told to say we lived in Equality Avenue and they (IEC officials) registered us.”
Teekalall alleged the MF had transported “hundreds” of people from other wards, including as far as Phoenix, to register as voters in ward 73.
“I even know where they stay,” he said.
Teekalall said that two days later he approached the DA’s candidate in the ward and told him what had transpired.
“I came forward because I am tired of all the lies the MF has told me about getting me a (disability) grant. I just want to expose them.”
Mchunu said: “This is a serious indictment of our democracy and our constitution that the MF is willing sabotage by busing people into other wards to register.”
Kohler Barnard said this was “one of the dirtiest by-elections” she had witnessed.
Pillay said: “The MF has never and will never do that.”
By-elections are taking place in Durban North (ward 36) as the councillor, Dean Macpherson, joined the DA in Parliament.
Residents of Pinetown and parts of Westville are going to the polls in ward 18, where Tim Brauteseth resigned after being elected to represent the DA in Parliament. Residents of Ward 52 in Phoenix are to elected a councillor following the incumbent, Bradley Singh’s defection from the MF to the DA.