Danny's Diary: Homeless people can vote despite lack of fixed residence
Opinion / 8 January 2019, 08:30am / Danny Oosthuizen
When you are elected as a politician or in any other role as representative of the people, one would assume you have walked the walk.
You understand the history of this fragile nation and would act on everybody’s behalf in good faith.
Everybody. Not just a selected group.
There is no such thing, unfortunately, as an all-inclusive party.
The EFF comes across as pro-black.
The DA pro-white.
For many years, the homeless (more than 8 000 of us) never had the opportunity to vote, simply because we had no proof of a fixed address. And nobody out there really took us seriously to sort out this issue.
However, according to Laura Franz-Kamissoko, deputy manager – publications and internal communications at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) “a citizen’s right to vote in South Africa’s elections is enshrined in the Constitution, so whether or not a voter has a fixed or permanent address is immaterial”.
“For the purposes of registering on the national voters roll, voters are simply required to provide sufficient details of where they live for us to be able to confirm that they are registering in the correct voting district.”
This means homeless voters are not required to have a formal address or to provide proof of address when registering. But it is a criminal offence for a voter to register in a district in which they do not live.
Franz-Kamissoko adds: “If anyone is found to deliberately register in the incorrect voting district they will be prosecuted for electoral fraud (this is to prevent the busing in of voters). For this reason, we don’t advise that homeless persons provide a church as a contact unless they reside in that church most of the time.
“Rather advise them to indicate where they live most of the time, if possible.”
This was confirmed by Western Cape electoral officer Courtney Sampson.
“There must be sufficient particularity, meaning the person must be able to describe where he lives, like say the first bridge on the main road entering Blikkiesdorp, next to the thorn tree.
“The homeless must complete a REC1 form (Registration Application Form). Here they will have to give accurate information on where exactly they live (sleep at night), a valid ID card or temp ID will also be needed.
“No one can prevent any citizen from voting, but the proof of residence is a tricky one.”
This is great news for the 8 000-plus homeless people in Cape Town.
However, most homeless people get removed from areas they live in by law enforcement etc. Our biggest stumbling block...
It’s a new year with many opportunities for those who want to improve their lives.
I am happy to report that the Space in Culemborg is fully occupied most of the time.
The staff at the Space interact with the clients in a very nurturing way. Confidence and a positive outlook on life are what I pick up from people living there.
** Danny Oosthuizen is the #TheDignityProject ambassador. In his weekly daily column for the Cape Argus, he tackles the struggles homeless people face. Connect with Danny on Facebook and on Twitter @masekind3213 or via email: [email protected]
*** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.