By SA News
About 160 000 prisoners will have an opportunity to register to vote in the upcoming 2019 National and Provincial Elections.
While the last voter registration weekend will be on 26 and 27 January, inmates will get an opportunity to register on 22 – 23 January.
The Electoral Commission, which will conduct the process is appealing with family members in possession of offenders’ identity documents (IDs) to make arrangements to deliver these.
The IDs should be delivered to the relevant correctional facility by Monday, 21 January.
“Most offenders do not keep their ID documents with them and they are often kept at home by family members,” Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said on Thursday.
The production of an official ID – either a smart card ID, a barcoded ID book or a temporary ID certificate – is necessary to register as a voter.
In the past, Mamabolo said this has inhibited voter registration among inmates.
According to the Correctional Services Department, there are approximately 160 000 offenders, including remand detainees, in South Africa’s 240 prisons.
Correctional Services said preparations are in place to keep the IDs safe for the offenders until the voter registration.
After registration, these documents will be returned to family members during their next visit.
Since 1999, the Electoral Commission has worked closely with the Department of Correctional Services to provide voter registration and voting opportunities for inmates.
This is in line with the Constitutional right extended to prisoners to vote.
Inmates are registered to vote in the municipality in which they resided prior to incarceration.