Any person can lay a charge against someone caught taking a “selfie” of their ballot at a voting station, Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya said on Wednesday.
“Anyone that is aware of prohibited conduct can lay a charge,” Moepya said at the IEC results centre in Pretoria. “They must be arrested if somebody wants to lay a charge. You can carry your camera. We aren’t going to say don’t bring it in, but you can’t use it inside the voting station. That is a criminal offence.”
Selfies are photographs people take of themselves on cellphones.
His comments follow a report by the Sowetan Live website that kwaito musician Sbusiso Leope, known as DJ Sbu, ignored the warning not to take photographs in the voting booth when he tweeted photographs of his ballot papers on Wednesday.
The original photographs were close-up shots that showed his marked national and provincial ballot papers under the hashtag #WhyiVoteANC.
Later these images appeared to have been removed as his Twitter feed showed only a photograph of an inked thumb over a portion of oysters on ice with scattered lemon slices.
Sport minister Fikile Mbalula could also find himself in trouble after he tweeted a photo of himself holding his ballot papers with the caption: “That’s me ready to vote for my ANC, province to national.”
Moepya explained it was an offence according to election regulation 38 (1A) which reads: “No person may make a photographic or any other form of image of a ballot paper which has been marked by a voter on election day or on a day on which special votes are cast.”
He said the IEC could not act on these complaints.
“The electoral commission does not have police cells, it [electoral regulations]does say anyone can lay a charge, even I can lay a charge as the chief electoral officer for that purpose.”
The IEC could deal with matters concerning political parties, but it was any citizen’s responsibility to report criminal matters. — Sapa