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IEC dismisses fire claims but confirms a circuit breaker was burnt

The Electoral Commission’s Results Operation Centre (ROC) at the Tshwane Events Centre.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

The Electoral Commission’s Results Operation Centre (ROC) at the Tshwane Events Centre.Picture: Oupa Mokoena/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Oct 31, 2021

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Johannesburg - The Electoral Commission CEO Sy Mamabolo has denied that there was a fire at the Results Operation Centre (ROC) in Tshwane on Saturday night.

“There was a burning of a circuit breaker on the distribution box. There were no flames but the burning….in other words the oversupply of heat resulted in malfunctioning. The unit was completely destroyed necessitating a replacement,” Mamabolo said.

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He said the decision to evacuate the ROC came after an electricity supply problem.

“We evacuated the building because there wasn't sufficient electric supply into the building so for safety purposes we took everybody out while we investigated and established the facts. There is nothing worse than having to identify the problem living people here and subject them to risk. "

According to Mamabolo, at the time the incident came to light, they didn't know the extent what the problem is hence the need to establish fact, as soon as they were established get the replacement needed and restore operation.

Mamabolo said they needed to first understand the problem if it was a sabotage or a mere engineering glitch, they needed to know what they were dealing with and all the agencies that they were working with were involved trying to establish the facts.

He added that the Commission's partner, City of Tshwane, acted swiftly to control the situation with police to secure the centre and by 10pm, operations were restored.

At around 6pm on Saturday night there were reports that a fire broke out leading to the centre to be evacuated.

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During the evacuation the commission left South Africans in the dark, due to lack of communication on what was going on.

Mamabolo admitted that communication is key but the commission was dealing with an emergency and they needed to make sure what they were dealing with before they could communicate.

“You cannot communicate facts you are not sure about, you have got to establish your facts then confidently speak to the people. That was the delay we had to understand what had happened," Mamabolo said.

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He further stated that they have always dealt with matters relating to electoral processes transparently, nothing to hide.

“The very existence of this centre is about transparency, that is why we are all here, that's why parties and media is here precisely to give people an opportunity for unfettered access to all role players so I don’t think there was anything untoward. We had an emergency situation where we needed to establish what the problem was and once we knew we had to communicate with the country,” he said.

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