Thabo Bester, Dr Nandipha Magudumana, Ralph Stanfield & others voting behind bars

Dr Nandipha Magudumana and Thabo Bester will be voting behind bars for the first time. Picture: File

Dr Nandipha Magudumana and Thabo Bester will be voting behind bars for the first time. Picture: File

Published May 11, 2024


Cape Town – In the 2019 National Elections, just over 11 000 prisoners were registered to vote and with approximately 212, 286 offenders behind bars, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said it could only divulge a figure once registration has been completed.

Activists have called for fair elections in which prisoners are allowed to vote and for political parties to do their canvassing behind bars.

With 240 prisons in South Africa, the IEC, Department of Correctional Services and Department of Home Affairs have to ensure that each prisoner who is eligible to vote on May 29 this year, has a valid identity document.

Bester, who carried out an elaborate prison escape just over a year ago, allegedly with the help of Magudumana, is imprisoned at the Kgosi Mampuru II Central Maximum correctional facility in Pretoria.

Magudumana is at Bizzah Makhate Correctional Centre in Bloemfontein.

Nafiz Modack, Fadwaan Murphy, Ralph Stanfield and his wife, Nicole Johnson, are imprisoned in the Western Cape, at Malmesbury Prison, Pollsmoor Prison and Brandvlei Prison.

Dr Nandipha Magudumana will be voting behind bars for the first time. Picture: File
Alleged gang boss, Ralph Stanfield, and his wife, Nicole Johnson, who are imprisoned in the Western Cape, will be voting behind bars. Picture: File

Prison rights activist Golden Miles Bhudu, of the South African Prisoners Organisation for Human Rights (SAPOHR), told Weekend Argus, “SAPOHR calls on our membership to approach unit managers, heads of prisons and area commissioners and engage and call on them and explain to them that to vote is a democratic right, and those who couldn't register, simply because they didn't have their ID documents with them at the prison or couldn't afford to pay for one, must demand to vote, using their orange prison card.

“They can also use a fingerprint ID scanner as a form of identification.”

Bhudu added that it was the responsibility of authorities to make sure that each prisoner had a valid identity document.

“Hundreds and thousands of both not-yet sentenced and sentenced prisoners could be disenfranchised due to the indisputable fact that a vast majority couldn't register because they didn't have their green barcoded IDs and/or Smart Card IDs with them, for very obvious reasons,” he said.

Bhudu also called on political parties to be given the opportunity to canvas at prisons to give offenders insight and education about who they could vote for.

“Not allowing political parties access into correctional services facilities to campaign, lobby and canvas

potential voters is unconstitutional, irregular, irrational and goes against the constitutional grid of a constitutional dispensation, and could make a mockery of our hard-earned democracy.”

The IEC told Weekend Argus it could not divulge the latest figures for prisoners who have registered to vote until it had completed the process.

The IEC said prisoners would be eligible to vote on the set election date.

“Arrangements are made with correctional facilities as well as with SAPS, but there is no special protocol for prisoners. As at any other voting station, agents will be allowed to observe the voting process,” said the IEC.

Mocheta Monama of the Department of Correctional Services said he was not in a position to comment.

“As per the elections guidelines, all inquiries regarding elections are facilitated through the IEC,” Monama explained.

Weekend Argus