Prisoners’ right to vote ‘sabotaged’

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Copy of ca p7 Prison Voting DONE Cape Argus Many prisoners do not have access to their green barcoded IDs, nor money to pay for temporary IDs, which they will need to vote, says an activist. Picture: Brenton Geach

Cape Town - Prison rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu has accused the government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of sabotaging the rights of thousands of prisoners in the country’s 238 prisons to vote in the May elections because they do not have access to their green barcoded IDs.

Bhudu, leader of the Corrections and Civil Rights Movement, said the movement planned to go to court to stop the elections until the IEC had registered all eligible voters in prison, and a conducive environment was created for prisoners to get their IDs.

The IEC’s Western Cape electoral officer, Courtney Sampson, said that the figures for the prison registration drive, along with the results for the weekend registration drive, would be released nationally later on Wednesday.

But Bhudu said authorities had not done enough to get prisoners registered. “If the IEC can cross the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans to make sure that predominantly DA supporters, followers and sympathisers are registered to vote in the coming elections, I cannot understand why they can’t ensure that each person that finds him or herself incarcerated cannot be registered as well.”

He said that since the recent prison registration drive, the Corrections and Civil Rights Movement had been inundated with calls from sentenced and awaiting-trial prisoners who were eligible to vote but did not have access to money to pay for temporary IDs.

Bhudu’s movement has been registered with the IEC as a political party since 2010.

Bhudu, 47, the president of the South African Prisoners’ Organisation for Human Rights, is an ex-prisoner who has been campaigning for prisoners’ rights for decades. Now he says he is teaming up with Julius Malema’s EFF to form a political working arrangement before the elections.

Bhudu said the movement raised the issue of prisoner registration almost five years ago, and the authorities should have anticipated problems. “We told them to make sure each prisoner gets their IDs.”

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Cape Argus

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