Wednesday, October 27, 2010

BBC News-Computer Hacker Tried To Sabotage 1994 Mandela Election

South African President Nelson Mandela casting his vote in his historic 1994 election: Getty Images
(Story reported by Martin Plaut for BBC News) 

A new book in South Africa says a computer hacker tried to sabotage the historic election in 1994.

This was the vote which ended apartheid and brought Nelson Mandela to power.

The book by Peter Harris, who was the head of the official election monitoring division, says the hacker got into what was thought to be an impregnable system.

The manipulation was detected at the time, but the culprit was never discovered.

It is easy to forget just how tense South Africa was ahead of its first truly democratic election in 1994.

There were threats from the far right and plots by sections of the white military to disrupt the vote.

"There was a right-wing conspiracy to start an armed insurrection with the help of the Defence Force," he says, "and that resulted in a number of bombs going off to try and stop the election and cause mass panic and despair."

Peter Harris was head of the official election monitors. 

The April election went ahead as scheduled.

Votes were counted and the results began trickling out.

But Peter Harris says at 0500 on 3 May, a hacker managed to get into the Election Commission computer.

The hacker boosted the votes of three right-wing parties, shaving votes off the ANC's tally.

(Click here to read the full story on the BBC News website.)

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