EFF leader Julius Malema and his wife, Mantwa. Picture: @EFFSouthAfrica/Twitter

Polokwane - Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema on Wednesday slammed the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) official at his voting station for wanting to remove his wife's artificial nails before she could cast her vote.

Malema, who cast his vote at the Mponegele Primary School in Seshego together with his wife, Mantwa, his aunt and his grandmother, said an IEC official was waiting with a pair of scissors to remove artificial nails in order to put a mark on voters' nails as per the rules.

"There was some official who said to my wife that she must take out her nail so that they can put a mark [on her thumb]. And I found that bizarre because where is that written in the rules that women who have long nails can't vote?" Malema said.  

"We cannot have such a patriarchal arrangement happening at the voting station. Luckily the electoral officer came and said there is no such a thing, she can vote with her nail. But the person who puts a mark on people has a scissor there and she uses these scissors to take your nails out."

Malema said that it should never be costly for people to vote because applying artificial nails costs money, and the IEC would not refund voters after removing their artificial nails. 

He said IEC officials should know electoral rules by heart and should not be controlled by their own emotions because when they are challenged in such incidents, they cannot produce relevant rules to back up their actions. 

"The next thing they are going to say that women must take out weaves because they want to see if it is them on their IDs. Such nonsensical things, it starts small like that and before you know it, it is something like that is institutionalised. It must be challenged even now," Malema said. 

"But the process was smooth and quicker. And I'm happy that the IEC seems to be organised, especially here in Seshego."

Malema is usually accompanied to vote by his late grandmother, Sarah Malema, who died last weekend.    

He thanked his party supporters, the Seshego community and all South Africans who had sent his family messages of condolences, saying that the funeral of his grandmother will be at Ngoako Ramahlodi Sport Complex on Saturday morning.

African News Agency/ANA