Thursday, December 29, 2005

Another Cape Town informal settlement goes up in flames

At least fifty more Cape Town families have been left homeless following a fire in the Ocean View area Thursday morning. About 50 shacks burnt down in the Masiphumele informal settlement, while firefighters also had their hands full with a brush fire at nearby Slangkop. According to Cape Town Disaster Management spokesperson Johan Minnie, no injuries or fatalities have been reported. Minnie said that residents affected by the blaze are receiving assistance. There has been a spate of fires in the Cape in the last week, with strong winds fanning the blazes that have left hundreds of people homeless over the festive season

The Cape minstrel march is off

The Cape minstrel march – traditionally held on the second of January - is reportedly officially off as talks between the minstrels and the premier's office have reached a dead end. The premier's office says it will not be entering into any more negotiations with the Kaapse Karnival Association about funding. The Cape Times reports that no further meetings have been planned. On Tuesday, the KKA said that Premier Ebrahim Rasool's office had promised it one-point-five-million rand, but instead, they had only received one-point-three-million rand. The organisation says there is not enough money to stage the event - a popular tourist attraction in Cape Town.

The latest road death toll figures

The death toll on South Africa's roads during the holiday season has reached almost a thousand but is still down one-thousand-140 on the same period last year. According to a statement issued by the Department of Transport a total of 965 people have died on the country’s roads so far. 411 of these were pedestrians and 88 children under the age of 14. Most fatalities were in KwaZulu-Natal with 183 deaths, followed by Gauteng with 162, the Eastern Cape 115, Mpumalanga 110, the Western Cape 104, Limpopo 91, North West 87, the Free State 79, and the Northern Cape with 34.

Safety precautions for Matric celebrations

Western Cape police have taken measures to ensure the safety of residents and students during matriculation celebrations. The national results will be released on Thursday morning countrywide. Celebration venues that have been identified as areas of concern include the Grand Parade, Cape Peninsula beaches as well as beaches on the west and south coasts. In a statement issuedon Wednesday morning police said they would perform patrols and access controls. Roadblocks will also be set up at strategic points. Firearms and alcohol will be not be allowed onto beachfronts and pavilions. Action will be taken against drinking in public, drunkenness and rowdy behaviour, public violence and serious and violent crimes. The measures will be taken in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies and the Department of Community Safety's Bambanani volunteers.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fraud-probe urged into fuel shortage

The South African Institute for Corporate Fraud Management says a thorough forensic audit is needed to investigate signs that fraud could have led to the fuel shortages experienced in the country over the past few weeks. The Cape Times quotes Institute president Bart Henderson as saying the Scorpions have already been called on to investigate the matter and the request is under serious consideration. According to Henderson the shortage was not what he calls an ‘’oops”, but rather a matter that compromised national security. He says all the red flags are there that indicate massive fraud. Consumers contribute about 700-million rand a year for the fuel industry to keep a 25-day supply of reserve stocks.

SA’s drivers disregard heavy fines

South African motorists are still showing a strong disregard for the heavy fines they could be given for driving under the influence of alcohol and hundreds have been arrested so far this holiday season. A senior police spokesperson reminded motorists who drink and drive that they could face fines of up to 120-thouand rands or six years in prison. The legal limit is naught-point-05 grams per 100 millilitres. The spokesperson pointed out that this means that a motorist should not drink more than two cans of beer or two glasses of wine or just one double tot of spirit liquor every two hours. Roadblocks will be increased during the New Year festivities.

Petrol price to drop next week

The price of petrol is expected to drop by five or six cents a litre next week when South Africa switches over to cleaner, unleaded fuel on the first of January. Economists said consumers had been expecting the fuel price to drop by much more than the projected five or six cents a litre. The price of diesel should drop by as much as 14 to 15 cents a litre. This would be the third month in a row that fuel prices eased. The economists say the move should boost the country’s economy as consumer confidence had dropped toward the end of this year as the fuel price rose.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Alcohol a leading cause of road carnage

At least 93 road users died on the Western Cape’s roads over the Christmas weekend. The province’s community safety spokesperson, Makhaya Mani said that drunken driving and pedestrians not wearing reflective clothing, or walking around drunk, continued to be a problem. He says of the 93 fatalities, 27 were drivers, 31 were passengers and 35 pedestrians. Mani says the figure of 93 fatalities is an improvement on the same period last year, when 126 people died. Traffic authorities have doubled roadblocks from last year. Mani says they are setting up roadblocks where motorists don't expect them to be and are catching drivers by surprise.

Western Cape residents asked to use water sparingly

Residents of several suburbs in the Cape Peninsula have been asked to use water sparingly following a major break in a water main at the Voëlvlei Dam. The dam is one of Cape Town’s major water suppliers and the break has put further strain on residents who have spent a frightening weekend watching encroaching veld fires threaten their homes. Spokesperson for the City Pieter Cronje has appealed to residents of Melkbos, Blouberg, Duynefontein, Milnerton, Plattekloof, Goodwood and Morning Star to use water sparingly. Cronje says the reservoirs are full and there is no crisis at the moment, but residents in these suburbs should not water their gardens or fill their swimming pools until tomorrow afternoon when the break in the water main should be repaired.

Toddler dies in Cape Peninsula fire

The Weather Bureau has warned that Western Cape fire fighters can expect little rest today as weather conditions remain favourable for runaway fires. Hot, dry conditions have been forecast for the Peninsula, Boland, Swartland, Breede River Valley and the West Coast. The strong wind is expected to continue blowing over a wide area. The fires that ravaged the Peninsula over the Christmas weekend claimed at least one life when a toddler was burnt to death in a shack fire in Site C in Khayelitsha late yesterday. More than a thousand people have been left homeless following seven fires in informal settlements in the Peninsula.

Friday, December 23, 2005

DNA links man to Knysna killings

Prosecutors say they have DNA evidence that links a Knysna man to the murders of two young women in the town. Heinrich van Rooyen is accused of the murders of Jessica Wheeler and Victoria Stadler, and the state claims to have recovered his DNA from the body and clothing of the two women. It is reported that State prosecutor MP Heyns says Van Rooyen’s DNA was found on Wheeler’s body, while he also matched a semen-sample found on the pants Stadler was wearing the night of her murder. Van Rooyen’s bail application has been postponed until January 16th.

Dire warning for motorists who do not obey rules

Traffic officials countrywide have increased surveillance on South Africa’s roads as the end-of-year-holiday traffic rush gets under way. Law enforcement spokesperson Collen Msibi says roadblocks will be set-up on most of the busiest routes and offenders can expect little or no mercy. Random checks will be held for speeding, drunken driving and drug abuse. Msibi warned that driving under the influence could lead to a fine of 120-thousand rand or six years imprisonment. The death toll on the country’s roads since the start of the holiday season stands at 560. Of these, 325 were pedestrians.

A fuel price cut in January

Fuel prices are likely to fall further in the new year with an expected price cut of seven cents on January 4th. According to I-Net Bridge, a stronger rand and lower oil price is the main reason for the price cut. Meanwhile, thousands of tons of European fuel is to be imported into South Africa next month. At least 150-thousand tons will be imported to deal with supply gaps following the recent shortage of fuel due to refinery upgrades and maintenance.

Speared fisherman critical

A spear fisherman who accidentally speared himself in the chest at Cape Point on Thursday was still in a serious condition in the Groote Schuur hospital late Thursday night. The 33-year-old man had apparently been demonstrating the spear gun to people when he was shot. NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon says the spear was embedded in the victim’s chest but could not be removed at the scene. The patient was flown to hospital by helicopter where doctors operated to remove the barbed spear from his chest.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Drowned man’s body found at Fisherman’s Walk

By Megan Hartogh

The National Sea Rescue Institute discovered the body of a 23-year-old man on Fisherman’s Walk Wednesday morning. The man was reported missing on Saturday, December 17th and was presumed to have drowned. NSRI spokesperson, Craig Lambinon, says that the body was found near to where the incident occurred.

Speculation that the Knysna murder accused is innocent

There is speculation that the wrong man is being held for the recent murders of two young Knysna women. Heinrich van Rooyen will be applying for bail in the Knysna magistrate’s court on Thursday, after he was arrested in connection with the murders of Jessica Wheeler and Victoria Stadler. However, News24 reports that a source close the private investigation into the murders says the accused might be innocent because police were “under pressure to arrest someone". The source claims that van Rooyen was arrested on circumstantial evidence and suggests that there is in fact no link between the two murders.

Air crew back from Equatorial Guinea

The two South Africans who were held in Equatorial Guinea over a business dispute have arrived at Johannesburg International Airport. Ruwayda Kalbine and Seshan Pillay were flown from Malabo to Libreville on Wednesday morning before departing for South Africa. They had their passports returned on Tuesday night after a meeting between South African and Equatorial Guinean foreign affairs officials in Pretoria. Kalbine and Pillay went to the country to work as crew members for a local airline, but were detained because of a business dispute between the company that employed them and another airline. The pair were prevented from leaving Equatorial Guinea for more than a month.

No stats on SAPS protection

Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula says owing to security reasons information on the number and cost of private security firms protecting South African Police Service facilities cannot be provided. Nqakula was replying in parliament yesterday to the Democratic Alliance’s Roy Jankielsohn, who had asked what the value of each contract was. I-Net Bridge quotes Nqakula as saying only the national contracts were put on tender, due to the fact that total expenditure exceeded 200-thousand rand. He said requirements for security services with a total expenditure below 200-thousand rand were finalised on a quotation basis by different decentralised procurement offices.

Five people die in a car accident

By Busisiwe Mtabane

Five people have died in an accident outside Cradock on Thursday morning. Police spokesperson Captain Erris Claassen says a truck had tried to overtake a bakkie towing a caravan from Colesberg to Port Elizabeth at 08:30 on the N10 highway Between Middelburg and Cradock. The driver of the bakkie and four passengers died. A nine-year-old girl who was in the vehicle is in a serious condition in hospital in Middelburg. Police arrested the driver of the truck on five counts of culpable homicide.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

A breakthrough in the Philippi murder and rape case

Police in the Western Cape believe they have made a major breakthrough in the so-called Philippi serial killer case. Provincial commissioner Mzwandile Petros issued a statement on Tuesday night, saying a 41-year-old man had been arrested in Constantia Tuesday afternoon in connection with four murders and two rapes in the Philippi area. According to Petros the arrest follows a thorough investigation, and based on conclusive evidence police are confident that they have made a major breakthrough in solving one of the most complex cases. The man will appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, December 22. Earlier, a man known as Jesus was arrested in connection with the same case, but released later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Stranded air crew could be on their way home

The commercial dispute that has led to two South Africans being held in Equatorial Guinea since the 17th of November may be resolved on Monday. One of the companies involved in the saga says it is meeting with Foreign Affairs again and hopes to finalise the pair's return. Cabin crew members Ruwaida Kaldine and Sechan Pillay were prevented form leaving Equatorial Guinea over a debt owed by their company Gal Aviation. Authorities in Equatorial Guinea plucked the two from the plane that was to take them to Johannesburg on the 13th of December, after South African ambassadorial staff had escorted them on board a flight in Malabo.

Fuel crisis task team to be appointed soon

The minerals and energy department expects to announce the terms of reference of a task team on Monday, to probe the fuel crisis that left some service stations dry. Nhlanhla Gumede, the chief director of hydrocarbons, told Business Report the department would give the task team about two months to complete its work, due to the urgency of the crisis Minerals and Energy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks lashed oil refiners last week for causing the fuel shortages through failure to hold a 25-day stockpile of refined products and insisted the industry refund motorists for the oversight.

Meanwhile, Colin McClelland, the director of the SA Petroleum Industry Association, says things are getting better. But it will take some time before the industry has the reserve stocks that McClelland will be comfortable with. He says they don’t have the levels of stock they’d like to have anywhere yet, but there is enough to keep the system going and they are making special efforts for farmers in the Western Cape and Free State. The industry and the government have set up a logistics task team to co-ordinate fuel supplies across the country.

Police seek missing person

By Megan Hartogh

Cape Town police are requesting the public’s assistance in locating 47-year-old Roger Muller. Muller was last seen on Thursday, December 15th, at his place of work in Riebeeck Street at around 10 A.M. Police spokesperson, Bernadine Steyn says that Muller is believed to be driving a maroon Suzuki "Intruder" motorcycle. Muller is approximately 1.75 metres tall, weighs about 100 kg, and has short brown hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information is asked to call the Cape Town police station's Operational Room on (021) 467 80 93 or the investigating officer, Inspector Herman van Deventer on (021) 467 80 18. Alternatively, they can call the Crime Stop number on 08600 10 111.

Inset: Roger Muller, who has been missing since December 15th.

A nasty surprise for cheating matrics

A nasty surprise is waiting for Western Cape matrics suspected of cheating. Their results will not be published in newspapers. Provincial deputy director-general for education Brian Schreuder says his department is investigating at least 40 incidents of irregularities. These include pupils using crib-notes. He says in cases where pupils have been caught in exam venues, investigations have already been finalised. Irregularities found during the marking process could not be finalised because pupils were on holiday and couldn't be reached.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Another suspected drowning in False Bay

Rescue authorities have resumed the search for a 26-year old man who went missing while swimming in False Bay on Sunday although they presume he has drowned. The man apparently went swimming at a beach close to Monwabisi in Cape Town, and has not been seen since. According to National Sea Rescue Institute spokesperson Craig Lambinon, the beach the man was swimming at is not patrolled by lifeguards. Lambinon says that a rescue helicopter has been despatched to continue the search for the man, after a combined search by the NSRI and police divers found no trace of the man on Sunday.

Fuel slowly returns to the Cape

By Megan Hartogh

Western Cape fruit farms are slowly receiving fuel supplies. This comes after diesel supplies ran dry in the Klein Karoo and Boland a week ago. However, if the fuel supply does not normalise this week, grape and peach harvests will be threatened. Should this occur, it would add to the fruit industry’s loss of millions of rands because of spoiled fruit. The fuel being received comes as the minister of Minerals and Energy, Lindiwe Hendricks, plans the establishment of a task team that will manage and co-ordinate fuel distribution. It is reported that the fuel shortage is due to fuel companies not keeping a 30 day fuel reserve, as per a moral agreement with government, ahead of switching to cleaner fuels in January 2006.

Hundreds die since start of festive season

By Megan Hartogh

Hundreds of people have lost their lives since the start of the festive season. Five-hundred-and-62 people were killed on the roads and ten lost their lives due to drowning over the past weekend. The latest fatalities to add to the horrific total were two motorists who died in separate incidents at Laignburg and Three Sisters. According Community Safety spokesperson, Makhaya Mani, motorists are still driving at high speeds and thus contributing to the amount of deaths on the roads.

A busy weekend for the NSRI

Members of the NSRI were once again kept busy on Sunday with 11 people being saved from drowning at Plettenberg Bay and Cape St Francis. Spokesperson Craig Lambinon SAYS lifeguards had saved eight people at Nature’s Valley near Plettenberg Bay when they were swept out to sea. Three people were rescued at Cape St Francis when their ski-boat capsized at Shark Point about 500 metres from the harbour. The boat was recovered and towed back to harbour.

Fuel industry slammed over shortages

FEDHASA Cape has slammed the fuel industry for the shortage that has led to a crisis in the industry. Chairperson Nils Heckscher said it was almost incomprehensible that the tourist industry should be saddled with a fuel shortage of this magnitude at the height of the holiday season. Heckscher said measures should have been put in place to prevent the disaster, adding that the shortage seems to be the result of very bad planning, and is not in line with the first world experience that the Cape is promoted to be.

Zuma takes on the SABC over cancelled interview

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma is to take the SABC to task for canceling an interview with him as newsmaker of the year. Zuma’s aide Ranjeni Munusamy is reported as saying Zuma intends writing to the SABC to ask why the planned interview had been cancelled at the last minute. Acting SABC spokesperson Lesego Mncwango told the Sunday Independent one of the reasons for the cancellation was because the invitation had been sent before Zuma had been charged with rape. He said it would have been impossible for Zuma to discuss certain things without breaking the sub judice rule.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Mbeki calls for greater steps towards reconciliation

President Thabo Mbeki says South Africans of different races have not done enough to overcome the divisions of the past. Speaking at Reconciliation Day celebrations in Pretoria on Friday, Mbeki says despite the work of parliament to abolish apartheid laws, there has not been the same level of initiative by the people to create a non-racial and non-sexist society. He went on to say that South Africans need to question whether enough has been done to overcome the stereotypes that were entrenched by the racist policies of the past.

South Africa’s Nobel Peace laureates to become a permanent fixture in Cape Town

South Africa's four Nobel Peace Prize laureates are to become a permanent fixture at the V&A Waterfront, after an unveiling at the V&A Waterfront on Friday, December 16. Larger-than-life statues of former president Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, former president FW de Klerk, and African National Congress founder Chief Albert Luthuli will now enjoy pride of place in the newly named Nobel Square at the Waterfront.
A memorial to commemorate struggle heroes Robert Waterwitch and Coline Williams, who both died at the age of 20, WAS unveiled earlier today. The uMkhonto weSizwe duo were killed in a blast in Athlone on July 23, 1976. The memorial has been erected in Lower Klipfontein Road, on the sidewalk near where their bodies were found.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Another teenager missing on the Cape Flats

Another Cape Town teenager has gone missing. Fourteen-year-old Kristy-Ann Michaels went missing on Sunday, December 11th. She was last seen at the Ons Plek Shelter in Albert Street, in Cape Town. Police spokesperson, Bernadine Steyn, says that Kristy has a scar under her chin and on her right arm. Anyone with information regarding Kristy's disappearance is asked to contact crime-stop on 0860-10111.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Thousands arrested for crimes against women and children

The ministry of safety and security says more than seven-thousand suspects have been arrested since November 25 for crimes committed against women and children. The ministry says in a statement that the arrests in Operation Basadi were for crimes ranging from rape, indecent assault and child abuse to kidnapping, abduction, murder and attempted murder. About a thousand police members carried out a string of co-ordinated pre-dawn raids at roadblocks and during stop and search operations. About a thousand addresses countrywide were visited. The operations formed part of the 16-day campaign of activism against woman and child abuse.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

QQ Section area committee meet with city officials

By Busisiwe Mtabane

The area committee for QQ section in Khayeliltsha met with officials from the City of Cape Town and members of the mayor’s Executive Committee on Tuesday, December 13.

QQ section made headlines when residents embarked on protest marches demanding to be moved to serviced plots as a first step towards getting houses.

The meeting was the first time since the struggle in QQ section gained prominence in May that officials came to see conditions in which people live. Leader of the QQ section area committee Mzonke Poni said they resorted to burning tires since their councilor and Council officials ignored them for so many years.

Airlines consider legal action against fuel companies

At least two airlines are considering legal action against petrol firms over the fuel crisis which left passengers stranded at the weekend. SA Airways and Nationwide say they will consider legal action against fuel companies after several flights were delayed because of a shortage of aviation fuel at Cape Town International Airport at the weekend. The general shortage of fuel, including aviation fuel, petrol and diesel, has been due to the country’s six refineries upgrading ahead of the conversion to cleaner fuels from January.

Stanley "Tookie" Williams may be buried in South Africa

Former South African first lady Winnie Madikizela-Mandela will do everything in her power to ensure that executed murderer Stanley "Tookie" Williams is buried in South Africa - if it is still his family's wish. However, Beeld quotes Madikizela-Mandela’s spokesperson, Udo Froese, as saying so far there has not been any official communication between her and the Williams family in Los Angeles. 51-year-old Williams was executed yesterday in California’s San Quention Prison, despite requests from groups opposed to the death penalty and celebrities, asking governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to grant him clemency.

Mbeki to attend municipal imbizo in Khayelitsha

By Nadia Samie

President Thabo Mbeki is to attend a municipal imbizo at the O.R Tambo hall in Khayelitsha in Cape Town on Wednesday, December 14. Mbeki will be accompanied by cabinet ministers, as part of the imbizo programme, which is intended to strengthen the municipality’s capacity to deliver on their mandate. The Imbizo will seeks to engage communities and stakeholders in the implementation of Project Consolidate, (a hands-on local government support and engagement programme), as a practical, national programme to deal with challenges.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Medical service launched on notorious road

To curb the high death toll on the stretch of N1 in the Karoo, known as the road of death, the Western Cape MEC for Health, Pierre Uys, launched a new emergency medical service on the highway between Laingsburg and Beaufort West today. The service, based at Leeu-Gamka, will significantly improve response times to accidents in the area, which claim many lives each year. Health spokesperson Herman van der Westhuizen told NewsFlash the service will relieve the burden on emergency services in towns in the Karoo. The provincial traffic department will also be receiving 20 new vehicles to assist in policing during the festive season.

Fuel shortage continues to bite

The South African Petroleum Industry Association (Sapia) says people who battle to find petrol should phone oil companies to find out where they will be making deliveries. Business Report quotes Sapia director Colin McClelland as saying oil companies are trying to keep petrol stations along the major routes supplied. He advised desperate city motorists to drive out to the nearest highway filling station. Meanwhile, government has announced a review of the country's fuel stocks as it accused oil companies of reneging on an agreement to keep 30 days' worth of supplies. Motorists pay between two and three cents a litre to compensate oil firms for the storage.

Government calls for review of fuel stocks

By Nadia Samie

Government has called for an urgent review of fuel stocks. After a meeting held in Pretoria yesterday between Minerals and Energy Minister, Lindiwe Hendricks and captains of the fuel industry, it emerged that fuel companies had broken a moral agreement by not keeping the required 30 day fuel supply, resulting in the current fuel shortages. The shortages are now spreading to neighbouring countries as well. Nhlanhla Gumede, the Chief Director of hydrocarbons in Hendricks department, says that in line with the basic fuel price mechanism motorists pay about 2 or 3 cents a litre for the costs incurred by fuel companies to store 30 days fuel supply. The fuel shortage is also the result of "bad planning" on the part of the South African oil industry. "Emergency imports" are now being purchased from tankers to cope with the shortage of fuel in the province, while refineries with surpluses are sending fuel by rail to Cape Town, the city worst hit. Cape Town now has four days' aviation fuel in stock and more is being produced.

South Africans believe that politicians are corrupt - study

Transparency International’s latest annual worldwide survey on corruption shows that South Africans believe political parties are the most-corrupt institutions in the country. According to the report between 51 and 70 percent of South Africans believe that corruption greatly influences political life. This places South Africa on par with countries such as Bulgaria, Cameroon, France, Russia and South Korea. The report was released on Monday, a day before the United Nations convention against corruption comes into effect. The convention, signed by South Africa, enables countries to recover assets and money that rulers stole in the past, as well as to curtail money laundering, corruption and bribery more effectively.

Provincial Spatial Development Framework to be released Tuesday

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rassol and Provincial Minister of Environment, Planning and Economic Development, Tasneem Essop will release the Provincial Spatial Development Framework and other related guidelines at the Langa Sports Hall at two-thirty on Tuesday afternoon. The Framework and guidelines are the department’s contribution to the Krismisbox campaign announced by the Premier in September. The campaign has been running since 2004.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Table Mountain safety concerns for tourists

#No arrests have yet been made after another tourist was attacked on Table Mountain over the weekend. A man from the Democratic Republic of Congo was stabbed and robbed on Lions Head on Saturday while walking alone to watch the sunset over the city. Police spokesperson Randall Stoffels says that two men armed with knives robbed him and stabbed him in the neck. Stoffels says that the suspects fled on foot. A string of attacks in the vicinity of Table Mountain has prompted tourist authorities to warn people not to venture out alone on the mountain.

Ajax star faces second ban

Ajax Cape Town goalkeeper Moeneeb Josephs faces his second six-month ban for the use of a banned substance in his asthma medication. Josephs, one of four goalkeepers in contention for the African Cup of Nations squad, previously served a ban after testing positive for salbutamol earlier this year. According to reports, he had earned a medical exemption for the substance after the first ban. Ajax boss John Comitis has expressed outrage at the decision to ban Josephs for a second time. Comitis says the ban is ridiculous and will not go unchallenged.

Two feared drowned in the Western Cape

Two people, including a 14-year-old boy, are believed to have drowned in separate incidents in the Western Cape. In Mossel Bay on Sunday, the National Sea Rescue Institute was called to the scene where two children got into difficulty in the water. One of the boys was rescued by a relative, while the other boy is still missing. NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said the search for the missing boy will resume this morning.

Meanwhile, divers and rescue personnel have also started searching again for a 50-year old man who went missing off Paarden Island late on Sunday. He is thought to have gone for a swim, but did not return to the car where his friend was waiting.

Motorists warned against drunk-driving

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe has received the Torch of Peace in support of the Arrive Alive campaign this festive season. Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka handed over the torch in Lichtenburg, marking the end of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children. Lit on 25 November at the launch of the 16 Days campaign, it has now been handed over to Radebe to encourage peace on the roads. Radebe warned that officials would come down hard against people who drink and drive during the holiday period.

Seven arrested after boy killed in gang crossfire

Two suspects will appear in the Athlone Magistrate’s Court on Monday in connection with the death of 11-year-old Toufiq Jacobs. Toufiq died when he was caught in the crossfire during a shoot-out between the Yakkies and Bad Boys gangs. He had been playing outside a house in Bokmakierie Street on Monday night when he was hit in the head. He died in hospital the next day. Police spokesperson, Bernadine Steyn, said the investigation into the shooting led to the arrest of another five people in Athlone, Mitchells Plain and Strandfontein when police came across illegal arms and ammunition. The firearms have been sent for ballistic testing…

Chaos at Cape Town International Airport eased

The chaos at Cape Town International Airport has eased since fuel became available late on Sunday afternoon, but airlines have nevertheless been warned to keep their contingency plans in place. Fuel became available on the runway just after five o’clock. However, BP spokesperson Kader Jacobs said that airlines would have to keep their contingency plans in place for three or four more days to allow the airport to build up a fuel reserve. Major delays became the order of the day when tanks ran dry at the weekend and even the Minister of Arts and Culture Pallo Jordan had to endure a delay of some six hours on a flight to Johannesburg.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Telkom gets a competitor

Telkom's competition has finally arrived after the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa licensed a second fixed line operator on Friday. SNO Telecommunications received its licence nearly four years behind schedule, and it is hoped that they will be able to offer consumers a choice between fixed line operators by sometime next year. The licensing process was delayed several times because of infighting among the shareholders, which include India's Tata Group and state-held Transtel and Esitel, which are Transnet's and Eskom's telecommunications arms.

NPA to investigate claims of a media campaign against Zuma

The National Prosecuting Authority has asked the Public Protector to investigate allegations that the media is being used to bring down Jacob Zuma. Zuma has also accused the NPA of leaking affidavits to the media. The Mail & Guardian says Zumalashed out in a statement at two newspapers that published a story of a woman who claimed she was paid to provide favours for him. The newspapers claimed they had a transcribed version of the woman's testimony that was in the possession of the Scorpions. Zuma says he never met the woman. NPA spokesperson Makhosini Nkosi says they will give the Public Protector their full co-operation in the investigation.

Western Cape on red alert as fires rage

Three people have been killed in yet another fire in the Cape Peninsula. Police have confirmed that a woman and two teenagers have burnt to death in a fire in Khayelitsha. The blaze began in the early hours of this morning and spread rapidly in the strong wind. The cause of the fire is still not known. Another fire is burning in Nyanga at this time.

Last night, panic stricken residents of Llandudno on the Atlantic seaboard of the Cape Peninsula began fleeing from their homes as a fire swept through the fynbos in the area. The fire started in the Oudekraal area shortly after midnight and was soon whipped up out of control by the strong southeasterly wind. Early this morning it was feared that the flames could sweep in on Camps Bay and Victoria Road from Hout Bay has been closed to traffic.

Meanwhile, weary fire fighters have had their hands full since yesterday when a number of fires broke out in the Peninsula, on the West Coast and in the Boland. By late last night it appeared that the dangerous fire above Kommetjie had been brought under control. A spokesperson for the Cape Town Fire Department told NewsFlash the fire had been water bombed until late and houses in the area had been saved. A fire next to the N-Seven motorway near Dassenberg north of Cape Town badly damaged a factory and a house yesterday. And in Bain’s Kloof in the Boland a group of campers had to flee for their lives when a run-away fire threatened the area.

Parliament approves Gautrain project

Parliament has given its official approval of the controversial Gautrain Rapid Rail link, after considering a detailed presentation on the project. The merits of the project,which is estimated to cost at least 20-billion rands, was recently questioned by parliament’s transport portfolio committee, which argued that it will be too expensive and would create a dependency on foreign parts. However, government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe says project has the full support of government, but agrees that more needs to be done to integrate the rail link with existing rail transport networks in the province.

Suspect arrested for Knysna murders

Police have made a breakthrough in the investigation of the murders of two young Knysna women who were killed in the space of a few weeks. Spokesperson Eddie Cronjé says the 23-year-old suspect, who was arrested in Hornlee on Thursday night, will appear in the Knysna Magistrate’s Court on Friday. He says the man’s bail hearing will probably be postponed. The brutal murders of 19-year-old Jessica Wheeler, whose body was found in a churchyard in October, and 20-year-old Victoria Stadler, who was found about a month later in bushes near Hornlee, shocked the popular Southern Cape tourist town.

Commuters charge Metrorail with corporate manslaughter

Frustrated commuters in the Western Cape intend charging Metrorail with murder, culpable homicide and serious assault in what could be the country's first so-called corporate manslaughter case. The Rail Commuters Action Group, or RAG, and 49 others have already filed a civil suit against Metrorail, claiming damages of 40-million rands for death and personal injury, in a bid to compel the company to implement proper operational procedures. According to the Cape Argus, the head of RAG Lesley van Minnen says relatives of people who have died or have been severely injured on trains intend laying criminal charges against Metrorail on Friday.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

City cuts funding for N2 Gateway Project

The City of Cape Town has cut its budget for the ambitious N2 Gateway housing project, apparently because planned allocations from provincial and national government did not materialise. According to Business Day, the city has reduced its overall spending by more than 30-percent, and will also be cutting its budgets for water and electricity services, as well as traffic and roads services. The N2 Gateway project was initially projected to build six-thousand-600 units over the next 18 months, but this will now be reduced to two-thousand-200 units.

Another power cut in the city

Parts of the Cape Peninsula were plunged into darkness again on Wednesday night after another power failure. Large parts of the province suffered three huge power cuts last month due to a partial shut-down at the Koeberg nuclear power station. But the City of Cape Town says last night’s power failure in the city centre and the Atlantic seaboard was apparently caused by an infrastructure problem which led to a feeder cable overload. To make matters worse, a water mains burst in Three Anchor Bay on Thursday morning turning Beach Road into a river and leaving many people without water.

City admits irregularities with jewellery project

Staff reporter

The city of Cape Town has admitted that a lucrative contract awarded to a Johannesburg-based consultant to set up an "African Jewellery City" was never put out to tender. According to the Cape Argus, the city awarded former SA Local Government Association chief executive Thabo Owen Mokwena’s company with a contract worth more than six million rands for consultation work on the first phase of the proposed jewellery precinct. City manager Wallace Mgoqi says the first part of the project was regarded as a closed bid, because of the intimate knowledge and networks that Mokwena’s company had on the project. City of Cape Town Media liaison, Sputnik Ratau, says the project has been launched to create jobs, in the cities where it has been implemented…

Matric fraud rocks top Western Cape school

Allegations of exam fraud at one of the Western Cape's most-prominent high schools have sent shockwaves through the province's education and matriculation circles. The results of at least 56 pupils are now in jeopardy. Matriculants at Bellville High School and parents were told at a special meeting on Tuesday night that a teacher at the school had apparently tampered with the answer sheets for the Computer Studies practical-exam paper. The teacher has been suspended pending an investigation by the Western Cape department of education. He could also face criminal charges. School principal Johan Crous did not want to confirm the teacher’s identity.

Law society to visit Pollsmoor

Members of the Cape Law Society, accompanied by Correctional Services minister Ncgonde Balfour, will be visiting Pollsmoor Prison on Friday, December 9. The visit is part of an ongoing joint venture where the conditions of all prisoners, more specifically children and women in custody, are reviewed annually. The review includes general conditions as well as access to health services, and specifically access to education for juveniles awaiting trial. Members from the Specialist Criminal and Family Law Committees will give guidance and deliver talks to prisoners awaiting trial on plea-bargaining and domestic violence. Constitutional Affairs and Human Rights Committee chairperson Vincient Saldanha and former Law Society president David Mc Donald will be leading Friday's delegation.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Mbeki reacts to rape charge against Zuma

President Thabo Mbeki says the ANC is going through an extremely difficult patch, and issues around former deputy president Jacob Zuma fill him with sadness. Answering questions about Zuma during a live broadcast on the SABC’s Radio Metro last night, Mbeki said people should spare a thought for Zuma’s alleged rape victim. Zuma was charged with rape in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court yesterday morning. Mbeki said the ANC supported Zuma while he was being charged with corruption earlier this year. However, he said the party also supported the woman who had laid the rape charge. Mbeki added that the law should be respected, as it was important to stick to the principle that a person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Another fire in Cape Town informal settlement

Community leaders in Khayelitsha will meet to plot the way forward following a fire that ripped through an informal settlement in the area yesterday afternoon. Firefighters estimate that between 200 and 250 shacks were destroyed in the Site B settlement, although John Brown of Cape Town Disaster Management says this is a conservative estimate at this stage. Brown says that the cause of the fire has not yet been established. No fatalities have been reported, although a fire fighter sustained light injuries while extinguishing the blaze. Brown says officials have ordered meals and blankets for residents of the settlement

Fuel shortage in the Western Cape

The continuing fuel shortage in the Western Cape is heading for a crisis as millions of litres of fuel, which were supposed to reach the region yesterday, are now only expected later this week. To make matters worse, the fuel price dropped by 30 cents a litre at midnight.
BP said at the weekend that at least 20-million litres of fuel were on the way from their refinery in Durban. At least three-million litres would arrive in Cape Town by rail, and another seven-million would be shipped in. However, Die Burger quotes BP spokesperson Melanie Silberbauer as saying millions of litres are expected to arrive on Friday. She said the situation was looking bad, as the shortage and crisis would only be resolved next week.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Jacob Zuma formally charged with rape

Jacob Zuma has formally been charged with rape. The former deputy president appeared briefly in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court early this morning. A 31-year-old Aids activist has accused him of raping her at his Forrest Town home, but Zuma denies the allegations. It is understood that Zuma’s lawyer Michael Hulley consulted with police before his court appearance. He says his client will respond to the charges in a statement later today. It is not yet clear whether Zuma will stand down as deputy president of the ANC now that he has been charged with rape.

Local athletes do their bit for charity

The annual Engen Athletics Community Challenge will see numerous well-known athletes participate in Cape Town’s premier charity athletics event. Athletes such as Llwellyn Herbert, Janice Josephs and Godfrey Mokoena will participate in the event which will be held at the Parow Athletics Track on December 16th. Spokesperson for the event, Mariana Meyer.

Suspected serial murderer in suicide attempt

The man arrested in connection with a spate of murders and rapes in Philippi in Cape Town is in hospital following an apparent suicide attempt while in police custody. The man was due to appear in court yesterday, but is under police guard in hospital after he tried to hang himself on Sunday night. The man, who faces 11 charges of murder, three of attempted murder and eight counts of rape, was found lying on the floor of his cell with injuries around his neck, head and face.

Child seriously wounded in gang crossfire

Another Cape Town child has become the victim of gang violence. An 11-year-old boy is in a serious condition in a hospital after he was hit by a stray bullet during a fight between two gangs in Athlone. Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn says the boy was playing in front of a house in Bokmakierie Street on Monday evening when he was hit in the head. A case of attempted murder is being investigated.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Taxi bosses slammed for poor treatment of differently-abled people

The Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad says the taxi industry needs to make its vehicles more accessible to persons living with disabilities. Speaking in Rustenburg, Pahad said taxi owners and drivers resent the space and time taken by people in wheelchairs when they board taxis as it costs them money. Pahad said this issue needed to be addressed as a human rights issue. He said people should be made aware that it was a crime to violate the rights of people with disabilities.

Eskom told to explain power cuts

The National Electricity Regulator has instructed Eskom to report on the causes of widespread power interruptions that occurred in the Western Cape during November. Eskom has also been told to come up with measures to reduce the likelihood of these interruptions happening again. NER spokesperson Nhlanhla Cebekhulu said that the present capacity to supply the load in the Western Cape depends on the availability of supply from Koeberg as well as from the generation pool in Mpumalanga. In all three incidents during November, these supply points were not available. Cebekhulu said the NER would put pressure on Eskom to ensure that the chances of failure of equipment is minimised.

Cape Town beefs up security ahead of festive season

The City of Cape Town has beefed up its Metro Police Department to provide a safe, responsive and sustainable environment for residents and visitors alike during the festive season. The City’s peak season programme began on the 1st of this month and it will run until the 31st of January 2006. Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Maatje Malan, said the city is a key supporting stakeholder in the safety and security environment, so it is the city’s duty to assist and ensure public safety during the festive season.

Suspected Cape Town serial killer in court today

A man suspected of killing and raping a number of members of the farm worker community in Philippi on the Cape Flats appears in a Cape Town court today. The 49-year-old suspect was arrested on Thursday. Police believe they can link him to at least eight murders and six rapes in the area over the past few months. The community took their case to the Independent Complaints Commission and hunted for the killer themselves, after accusing police of not responding to their plight. The farm workers say they are still living in fear because they believe the suspect operated with a gang which is still at large.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Government to recruit skilled South Africans working abroad

Government says it is looking to recruit about 400 engineers from outside SA to help implement and manage the country’s infrastructure investment programme. According to Business Day, most of the recruits will be South Africans currently working abroad. Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin says Eskom and Transnet will hire most of the recruits, as the government seeks to accelerate its multi-billion rand infrastructure development programme. Last week Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said that Eskom and Transnet have already identified at least 200 skilled professionals who fit the profile of the people required.

Tripartite alliance to meet for talks

An urgent meeting is to be held among the tripartite alliance in the Western Cape to discuss their relationship and the upcoming local government elections. This comes after the SA Communist Party accused the Western Cape ANC of racism and sidelining them as an alliance partner. SACP provincial secretary Khaya Magaxa says the party has received an ANC invitation to a meeting next week. ANC provincial chairman James Ngculu says he has spoken to Magaxa, who indicated that they should meet. He says he does not think there is a rift in the alliance. Meanwhile, Cosatu provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich says the alliance has never worked and that it should heal the rift. SACP Provincial Secretary Khaya Magaxa.

Farmworkers unsure about arrest of serial killer

Farm workers in Phillipi and Mitchell's Plain in the Cape Peninsula are sceptical about whether police have arrested the right man in connection with the so-called Jesus murders. Police say the 49-year-old man was arrested in connection with eight murders and six rapes committed in the area during the past four months. The alleged serial killer will appear in the Wynberg Magistrate’s court on Monday. Community leader Abe Fransman said he thought police had arrested the wrong man. Fransman said the community would continue searching and would not rest until the real killer had been caught. Farm workers say the killer has the word Jesus tattooed on his upper lip.

Thursday, December 01, 2005



A second national HIV/Aids study confirms that roughly 11 percent of South Africa's 45 million people are infected with the Aids virus, with young women the most at risk. The survey, coinciding with World Aids Day today, is among the most comprehensive of any Aids study done in Africa, involving more than 23 thousand people of whom almost 16 thousand agreed to be tested for HIV. According to the survey the national percentage has not changed significantly since the first study in 2002. Reuters quotes co-principle investigator of the report, doctor Thomas Rehle, as saying now is a very critical time to see this plateau is kept, or see a decline in coming years.

Focus schools for disadvantaged communities

Twenty-eight high schools in historically disadvantaged communities in the Western Cape will be transformed into Focus Schools over the next three years. The schools will specialise in three fields: Arts and Culture; Business, Commerce and Management; and Engineering and Technology. Western Cape Education MEC Cameron Dugmore says 49-million rand has been allocated for the initial development of these schools in each of the seven education districts of the province. Dugmore says his department will increase access and quality in subjects that were previously not available to all learners, and equip them with scarce skills needed in the marketplace.

Same-sex marriages given the green light

The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of same-sex marriages. The decision follows a Supreme Court of Appeal ruling last year that said same-sex couples could get married. The ruling also obliges parliament to draft new legislation within a year. In delivering the ruling in Johannesburg this morning Justice Albie Sachs said the common law definition of marriage is declared to be inconsistent with the constitution and invalid to the extent that it does not permit same-sex couples to enjoy the status and benefits it accords heterosexual couples. Courts are now requested to change the common-law definition of marriage from being a union between a man and a woman to a union between two persons.

Tourist bus robbed in Khayelitsha

By Nadia Samie

A tour bus filled with German travel agents was held up in Khayelitsha on Wednesday night. The bus stopped during a tour in Makhaza at about 6PM, and the tourists disembarked to have a look at the tradtitional dancing that was taking place. Armed men then got onto the bus and robbed the tourists who had remained on the bus. The group was said to be extremely traumatised, and police had to organise counselling for them. The group were the first of 700 German travel agents to arrive in Cape Town as part of a programme to encourage tourism to South Africa. Police spokesperson Billy Jones says that a case of armed robbery has been opened.

Western Cape political parties at loggerheads

By Megan Hartogh

With the municipal elections exactly three months away, the two major parties in the Western Cape find themselves having to deal with infighting. The ANC have openly shown the rifts within the party, when they recently engaged in a "verbal sparring" match with the SACP. According to senior members of the Democratic Alliance, their party’s rifts are due to competition for the top twenty positions on the party’s representation list. Compared to the ANC however, the DA has opted to remain silent about their differences, which they have termed "internal matters" as they believe it would not be right so close to elections.

New ARV clinics for the province

Staff reporter

The Western Cape Health Minister, Pierre Uys, will open an Anit-Retro Viral clinic at Idas Valley in Stellenbosch, an ARV-clinic at New Somerset Hospital and Khayelitsha Site B from nine o’ clock this morning (Thursday) as part of World Aids Day. The minister has promised that by Christmas 2005, the Provincial Department of Health will have 13 300 patients on the Anti-retroviral treatment at 41 sites in the Western Cape. This forms part of a range of activities to raise awareness around World Aids Day by communicating Aids facts to the public…

Two men caught in possession of Cocaine worth R252 million in Still Bay

Two men appeared in the Riversdale Magistrate’s Court on Monday after being found in possession of cocaine valued at R252 million. Picture: ...