9/10/2010. Rietgat police station Picture : Masi Losi

Johannesburg - It didn’t happen, said the Independent Electoral Commission. They appeared in court, said the SAPS.

On Wednesday night, police arrested three people on charges of fraud after a man allegedly voted three times.

The Star was at Rietgat police station in Soshanguve, north of Pretoria, when the man and two women were brought to the police station.

On Thursday, police formally confirmed the arrests and said the three appeared in the Soshanguve Magistrate’s Court on charges of fraud.

“Soshanguve police arrested three people at the Kgotlelelang Primary School voting station after a complaint was received from an IEC official,” said Brigadier Neville Malila.

“The complainant identified a male who had allegedly already voted and attempted to vote again. On further investigation of the suspect’s ID document, officials noted there were three IEC stamps in his ID,” said Malila.

Three stamps indicates three votes.

“The 22-year-old man from Soshanguve was arrested for fraud and contravention of the Electoral Act,” Malila said. “On further investigation, two officials, respectively 42 and 44 years old, were also arrested for fraud and contravention of the Electoral Act.”

The case was postponed until June 13 for further investigation and the three were warned to appear in court then.

Although the matter was reported to police by an IEC official – and on Wednesday, a Cope councillor in the Tshwane metro told The Star that Cope and other parties had reported the matter to the IEC and the police – the IEC does not have a record of this.

“We’ve never received any complaint about this. We don’t know anything about it,” said IEC vice-chairman Terry Tselane on Thursday.

He dismissed it as an urban legend, saying there had never before been a case of someone voting more than once.

It’s not clear how the man managed to beat the system, or whether he in fact voted more than once or merely tried to do so.

Tshwane councillor Tiyiselani Babane said on Wednesday the man was caught because he had been in the voting queue more than once.

It’s not clear how he circumvented systems to prevent this, including indelible ink marking on thumbs and zip-zip machines to check voters and ID book stamps.

“I have seen the ID. There are three stamps,” said Babane.

He said all political parties at the voting station had filed complaints with the IEC on the official forms.

It’s not known which party – if any – got the unauthorised extra votes.

The arrested man, wearing plain clothes but no party logos or identification, was brought to Rietgat at about 1am and handcuffed to a security gate. The two women arrested were wearing IEC T-shirts.

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The Star