DA rejoices after key victory in Tafelsig
By A'eysha Kassiem, Aziz Hartley and Aneez Salie
In the biggest turnout ever in a by-election in the Cape Town metropole, Tafelsig's voters have given the Democratic Alliance a landslide victory over bitter rivals the Independent Democrats.
In provisional results on Wednesday night for Ward 82 the DA took 69.3 percent of the vote against the ID's 29.5 percent in a 40.8 percent poll. Five smaller parties collectively received about a percent.
The vote was slightly down on the March municipal election's 43.6 percent. The outcome significantly affects the balance of power in the City of Cape Town.
The ruling coalition led by the DA now has a three-seat majority of 106 seats against the ANC-ID opposition's 103. The PAC has one councillor but he abstains from voting for or against either grouping.
"The turnout was the highest for any by-election in the Cape metropole because the contesting parties had gone all out to fetch people from their homes and to bring them to polling stations," municipal electoral officer Brent Gerber said.
In the March election Sheval Arendse won the ward for the ID, but resigned shortly after and defected to the DA, for whom he contested the by-election against the ID's June Frans.
He is now among only a handful of politicians to twice win a ward for opposing parties.
Said Arendse on Wednesday night: "No bad-mouth politicking will ever put me down. The people of Tafelsig have spoken and I'm happy they have shown their confidence in me."
Cape Town's DA Mayor Helen Zille said the result meant that opposition voters had not wanted their votes handed to the ANC by voting for the ID and that it meant the end of the party.
"We want to thank the people of Tafelsig for achieving a historic result. This has been the most important by-election ever fought.
"It is the end of the ID and they will not be able to recover from this," she said.
The ID's Simon Grindrod said he accepted the result.
"People have spoken democratically, and we have heard them. As a young party we've gained valuable experience in fighting this by-election," he said, but refuted Zille's assertion it was the end of the ID.
"That is utter nonsense. This won't be the last election we fight because the ID is not defeated or downhearted."
Losing candidate June Frans said: "It is God's will I did not win this ward. I accept it gracefully. I pray the overall interest of my community will be properly served by the DA."
Asked about impressions that her party had reneged on its undertaking to voters not to side with the ANC, Frans said ID leader Patricia De Lille held a series of house meetings with Tafelsig residents where the party's position was explained.
The by-election was adjudged "peaceful" by IEC provincial co-ordinator Courtney Sampson.
"The day has gone very well. There was a good spirit among the people and there has been a lot of activity at all our voting stations."
No incidents had been reported to them and they were "satisfied" with the poll.
"It's been a peaceful day in terms of voting, although political parties have been active as with any other election - picking people up and taking them to the polls," he said.
Meanwhile, no sooner is Arendse back in council than he is facing accusations of criminal behaviour.
The social welfare department confirmed his family received a child support grant, but Arendse said he had not known about it.
He claimed his wife Pamela had illegally obtained the grant, meant for the poorest of the poor, even though his family was disqualified because he had been employed as a councillor.
"She never told me about it... she says she's sorry."
He also denied that he had signed the grant application form, as required by law.
Arendse also said two cases, of domestic violence, and negligence when his firearm was stolen, were thrown out of court.