Former Abaqulusi (Vryheid) councillor Andr� L�tter, with his Ugandan-born wife, Robinah.

When first challenged, the body managing our elections certified that the voters registered for the by-election in Abaqulusi (Vryheid) Ward 22 had all checked out.

The Independent Electoral Commission said its staff had verified the addresses of those who had registered to vote, and were satisfied they lived in the ward.

Then an Electoral Court told the IEC to check again. It did, and removed 1 500 names from that voters roll. It had been a big mistake – a 25 percent error on a list of 6 100 (which had been 3 700 in the elections just two years ago).

It was a blunder, in fact, when seen in the light of the average voter turnout in KwaZulu-Natal wards in the last municipal election in 2011: 2 317. Fifteen hundred outsiders bused into a ward they were not entitled to vote in would have swamped the poll.

But the fight goes on, with an independent aspirant, André Lötter, a former ANC councillor in the ward whose departure from the party caused the by-election, taking the matter higher.

Busing voters to load elections is an egregious violation of our democracy. It is theft, arguably treasonous, with frightening consequences for South Africa’s democracy. If it is not forcefully halted, it will start fraying an electoral process that has to now won global admiration.

Both the IEC boss, Pansy Tlakula, and its head in this province, Mawethu Mosery, have expressed misgivings. Busing was a “big problem”, said Tlakula: “We have put mechanisms in place to deal with the problem, but it seems that the political parties outdo us.”

What will come of the attempts to rig the Ward 22 by-elections, and others in KZN? If there are no consequences for the culprits, it will not be long before our elections lose their integrity.

Rivals have, wrongly, described Lötter’s two successful bids to delay the Ward 22 election as undermining the will of the people. There is no doubt, though, that stealing an election is. And for this they should be held accountable.