Most Mpumalanga ballot papers recovered

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nelspruit - More than 900 of the 1000 ballot papers that had fallen off a Mbombela municipal truck in Mpumalanga have been recovered.

The Mpumalanga Independent Electoral Office (IEC) office confirmed on Tuesday that they have recovered most of the ballot papers.

On Monday, the ballot papers fell off a truck which had been transporting election material from the White River warehouse to the Area Managers in Hazyview. Jakkie Geldenhuys and his wife found the ballot papers in a street and informed the IEC.

The IEC and the Provincial Office of the South African Police Service (SAPS) subsequently launched an investigation into the incident. A task team was assembled, including forensic experts from Pretoria SAPS Headquarters.

They immediately conducted the investigation, interviewed all involved including the truck driver, his assistants and the warehouse officials. They also visited the scene where the ballots were found.

However, it was found that there was no foul play.

The IEC said, however, that ballot papers are considered invalid unless they have the IEC secret stamp. This stamp is only put on the reserve side of the ballot paper just before the ballot is issued to the voter.

They also have serial numbers on the counterfoil and can thus be easily blacklisted.

"The credibility of today's election shall not be compromised by this incident. The IEC would like to thank Jakkie Geldenhuys and his wife for their civic conscience and praiseworthy action of collecting Ballot Papers found along the road," said the IEC in a statement.

It further assured the South African public and the international community that there was no risk of the ballot papers being fraudulently used.