Arguments in the South African constitutional court on prisoner voting
There is still time for the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to register prisoners to vote for the April general election although the voters' roll has already closed, the Constitutional Court heard on Wednesday.
The court would need to provide a legal framework to allow the registration of certain categories of prisoners who were excluded from voting, said advocate Marumo Moerane, SC, who was acting for the IEC. ...
Advocate Vincent Maleka, on behalf of the applicants, conceded that as a matter of principle the legislature was entitled to limit the right to vote if there was a "demonstrable justification for the limit", but in this case argued that there was no legitimate justification.
He said the amendment to the Electoral Act promulgated in December 2003 violated two constitutional rights of prisoners: the right to vote and the right to equality.
Advocate Vas Soni, SC, representing the minister of home affairs, said prisoners should not be placed in a more favourable position than others who could not vote.
The government would be sending the wrong message if it made special arrangements for prisoners.
The argument was being heard by a full bench headed by Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson.
Chaskalson said the issue of prisoners' right to vote seems to have split courts around the world. -- Still time to register inmates (News24.com, South Africa)