MK Party’s Reddy and Khanyile fined R150,000 for threat to stop elections

Judge said statements had the potential to create social unrest and instability

The MK Party's Bonginkosi Khanyile and Visvin Reddy contravened electoral laws.
GUILTY The MK Party's Bonginkosi Khanyile and Visvin Reddy contravened electoral laws.
Image: MK Party/Sandile Ndlovu

MK Party members Visvin Reddy and Bonginkosi Khanyile have been fined R150,000 each by the Electoral Court after being found guilty of contravening the electoral code for threatening to bring elections to a halt.

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) had applied to the court after the ANC flagged Reddy and Khanyile’s reckless statements to the commission. The MKP members made the threats as its president, Jacob Zuma, faced disqualification from contesting the elections due to his 2021 jail sentence, which disqualified him from running for public office as stipulated in the constitution.

Reddy told party supporters in March: “We are sending a loud and clear message that if these courts, which are sometimes captured, try to stop the MK there will be anarchy in this country. There will be riots that have never been seen in this country. There will be no election. No South African will go to the polls if MK is not on the ballot.”

Judge Esther Johanna Steyn in her judgment on Wednesday found that Reddy and Khanyile contravened four laws of the electoral code, including one which stipulates “no person may prevent anyone from exercising a right [to vote]".

Though she fined Reddy and Khanyile R150,000 each, Steyn suspended the order for five years.

The commission had asked the court to impose a R200,000 fine but Steyn did not agree. This was despite Steyn noting in her judgment that statements by Reddy were “serious threats of violence”.

“There can be no doubt that, viewed objectively, the statements made by Reddy constitute prohibited conduct in terms of s 87 of the [Electoral] Act. They convey serious threats of violence and intimidation.

“The intimidation was aimed at citizens not to vote. Moreover, these uttered threats also interfered with the commission's work, especially its independence.” 

Steyn said Reddy had no history of previous transgressions and had attempted to make an apology “albeit very weakly”.

About Khanyile's remarks, she said: “His statements, assessed in the context of when and how they were said, would have been interpreted by a reasonable and informed observer as a threat to prevent the election.

“He repeatedly stated that if their demands are not met then there would be no election. The statements that were made by both of them had the potential to create social unrest and instability in the country,” the judge said.

Khanyile, who was charged with incitement to violence for the July 2021 unrest, had told reporters weeks before the election: “There will be no elections without MK and Zuma. Let me repeat so that when we are arrested, they can use this video as evidence in court.”

Khanyile said “the soldiers” were defeated by the July 2021 unrest.

“Do you think you can stop MK? Unleash all police officers, and we will meet toe-to-toe.”

However, Steyn said Khanyile had already been punished by the party.

“In my view, having considered the various factors, imposing a maximum penalty of R200,000 would be disproportional given the fact Khanyile has already been punished by the MK [Party] by removing him from his position as its youth leader.”