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Johannesburg - Gated communities, fenced sectional-title complex bodies corporate and their security companies have been warned that they are obliged to allow political parties in to register voters and to canvass for votes.
This follows an incident at the weekend when DA councillor Annette Deppe went to the Waterfall Estate in Kyalami to register voters and drop off DA pamphlets.
She was refused entry by the guards, who told her they had been told that political parties were not allowed in.
Deppe refused to leave, and sat in her car until the guards eventually told her they had called the police.
“I realised I was losing the battle, so I left, but I am furious as it is my right to canvass,” she said.
DA legal adviser John Mendelsohn said the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had organised a process for voter registration on the weekend of November 9 and 10.
“It is inevitable, therefore, that political parties will seek to access all places where voters reside, and this of course includes Waterfall City Estate.”
He said the Electoral Act No 73 of 1998 enshrined common political rights and stated: “Every citizen is free to make political choices, which includes the right to form a political party; to participate in the activities of, or recruit members for, a political party and to campaign for a political party or cause.”
Deppe, he said, represented Ward 93, into which Waterfall Estate City falls. She therefore represented its residents at municipal level and so had the right to exercise her party’s rights to enter Waterfall City.
Residents of Waterfall, too, had the right to be informed of their right to register as voters and to receive information as to when this would take place, where to go and the requirements of the IEC.
“We understand that a development such as Waterfall has been established and designed to afford its residents a maximum degree of security, and the DA is fully understanding and respectful of this,” he said, adding he would be seeking a meeting with estate managers.
Willie Vos, chief executive of Waterfall Estate, said there had been a misunderstanding by the guards.
“As in all gated communities, we only allow people in by appointment. Councillor Deppe asked to see the manager, and the guards thought she wanted to canvass people having a private picnic and would therefore not allow her in.”
A meeting would now be held to set a date on which the DA could enter the estate for political purposes, he said.
“We will allow any legitimate political party, regardless of affiliation, to canvass in our estate by appointment. We will encourage it, and will even give them space in our internal communication channels,” he said.