The SA National Editors Forum (SAnef) has defended an Mpumalanga journalist who was arrested following a video he posted of himself voting twice in the general election on May 8.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) made it clear that it was illegal to cast two votes in the election, but Sanef said the journalist did so in the interest of the public.
The journalist, Etienne Mare shared a video of himself online, showing how he was able to vote twice, at two different polling stations, by removing the ink from his thumb and bypassing the system.
Mare had heart the rumour from a female voter who claimed she had been able to vote multiple times and he decided to test the IEC system.
Mare spoilt his second vote, but he, and the female voter who had tipped him off regarding the flawed system were both arrested and appeared in the Barbeton Magistrate’s Court on Friday on charges of contravening Section 88(d) of the Electoral Act by allegedly voting more than once. Section 89(I)(a) for allegedly intentionally making a false statement and Section 90(2) for the alleged infringement of secrecy.
Sanef believe that Mare genuinely acted in the interest of the public. The journalists are not above the law and they understand it is an offence to have voted twice, however he recorded his activities and shared the results publicly in an attempt to expose possible fraudulent activity.
Sanef are exploring the means to offer legal support as the fact that Mare spoilt his second vote is evidence that he was not trying to undermine the system.