Sunday, April 30, 2006

Top security expert murdered

Police have launched a hunt for suspects following the shooting of one of South Africa’s top security experts on Friday night. Ben van Deventer, a former SA Police Service director, was shot at his home in Wierda Park in Pretoria, when he opened his front door to investigate a disturbance. Police confirmed to the Sunday Times that he had been shot twice in the head. Van Deventer, who left the police last year, was to have overseen security arrangements for Manchester United’s visit in July. The 44-year-old father of two had been responsible for security at major international sporting and political events.

Fishing crew rescued off Port Elizabeth

Volunteers from the National Sea Rescue Institute in Port Elizabeth had to race to sea on Sunday morning to save a fishing trawler with 21 crew on board from sinking. The NSRI’s Paul Killeen says the trawler was taking on water off Schoenmakerskop. Two NSRI boats and a fishing vessel rushed to the scene in choppy, rainy conditions. Water was pumped out of the Ellis S and it was taken under tow to Port Elizabeth. Killeen says a National Port Authority tug boat has been placed on alert to take over the tow if necessary. The crew is safe but the situation is tense.

Missing SA plane spotted in DRC

The United Nations’ World Food Programme says it is likely that two of the occupants of a plane that went missing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo were South Africans. Eyewitness News reports that the aircraft was spotted by a rescue helicopter in Bunia on Sunday morning. Rescue workers are still trying to get to the scene. The Cessna Caravan light plane with three people on board went missing shortly after taking off from Goma on Friday. This happened a day after two South African captains, André Nel and Charles Greyvenstein, died when the plane they were flying crashed in the region.

Americans protest against war in Iraq

Hundreds of thousands of anti-war demonstrators marched through lower Manhattan in New York on Saturday to demand an immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. The US military announced last week that April had been the deadliest month for its forces in Iraq this year. According to Fox News, protestors, including actress Susan Sarandon and activist Jesse Jackson, said the war was illegal, immoral and unethical. Organisers said the march was also meant to oppose any military action against Iran, which is facing international criticism over its nuclear program. The military says at least 67 US troops died in Iraq this month.

Fire victims try to invade housing project

Cape Town Metro Police say people left homeless after a shack fire in the Joe Slovo informal settlement in Langa on Saturday night are now trying to invade completed houses at the N2-Gateway housing project. It is not yet clear how many shacks were destroyed in the blaze, but no injuries have been reported. Police say scores of disgruntled people have gathered at the Gateway project, throwing stones and damaging the property.

Battle for Cape Town rages on

Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool says it is the ANC’s job to unseat Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille and her DA-led coalition. Speaking in the week in which Zille was violently hounded out of the ANC stronghold of Crossroads, Rasool told the Sunday Times the ANC wanted to put what he termed “the mayor’s glibness” to the test. The Cape Town council has been in a state of uncertainty ever since the March local government elections, in which no party won a clear majority. For her part, Zille says politics is about power and that any attempt to take over power should be done through legitimate means.

Search continues for plane missing in DRC

The UN mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is continuing the search for a South African registered aircraft that went missing over 48 hours ago. The Cessna Caravan light plane was chartered by the World Food Programme and had three people on board. Foreign Affairs’ Ronnie Mamoepa says the nationalities of the people have not yet been confirmed. The plane went missing only a day after Captains André Nel and Charles Greyvenstein died when the South African plane they were flying crashed. Six Congolese were also killed. There is speculation that the plane had been shot down.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Home Affairs denies passport crisis

Home Affairs has denied that an embargo has been placed on the issuing of new passports because the department has run out of blank passports. They say they continue to print passports as expected to afford South Africans an opportunity to travel to other countries. The department’s Nkosana Sibuyi says they are expecting a huge consignment of paper for the printing of passports next week. Double the quantity will be delivered in June.

Beeld reported on Friday that Home Affairs had placed a national embargo on the issuing of normal passports. The DA later called for the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and her deputy amid the reports of a crisis.

Cosatu concerned about strike violence

Cosatu says it is deeply concerned at the report of serious damage to property and injuries to staff at the Department of Labour offices in Durban on Friday, allegedly by striking security workers. Five-hundred guards are being detained after they ransacked the offices. Cosatu demands in a statement that all its members act within the law and pursue their demands in a disciplined manner. The trade union federation says in a statement they support Satawu’s decision to comply with a court order to stop its members from intimidating, assaulting and harassing non-striking workers and the public in general

Horror crash near Huguenot Monument

Five farmworkers from Groendal near Franschhoek and a man who was travelling with his family in a car have been killed in an accident involving a milk tanker and two cars in the Boland town’s Main Road. The accident happened near the famous Huguenot Monument. An emergency services spokesperson says five people were seriously injured, while four sustained minor injuries. Emergency workers and traffic officials were working on the scene for hours after the accident on Friday afternoon. Eyewitnesses say the farm workers were travelling on a bakkie. The names of the victims have not yet been released

Gold price soars

Gold soared to a new 25-year high on Friday after the UN nuclear watchdog said Iran had ignored a UN Security Council call to suspend nuclear fuel enrichment. Analysts say gold will continue to get support as long as uncertainty persists over the eventual resolution of the Iranian conflict. The metal got an extra boost from the dollar's plunge against the euro.
The dollar came under further pressure after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Iran had ignored a call to halt nuclear activities and accelerated the programme. On Saturday morning the precious metal traded at over 653-dollars per fine ounce.

Super 14 Rugby news

The Cats narrowly avoided becoming the first team to lose against the Western Force Friday night by snatching a try after fulltime and forcing a 34-all draw at Ellis Park. Trailing 3-21 at halftime, the Cats scored five tries in the second half, including the last by Wylie Human two minutes after the hooter had gone. It was the Force’s second draw in a row after ending up 23-all against the Crusaders a week ago.

This afternoon at five, rugby supporters at Loftus Versfeld are in for a lively match when the Sharks and the Bulls play in a decisive match to remain in the running for a Super 14 semi-finals berth. Both teams have no choice but to go full out and run with the ball to score four or more tries for a bonus point. SuperSport reports that a full house is all that is required by either of the two South African teams to remain within grasp of the fourth position on the Super 14 log.

In other clashes involving local teams the Cheetahs host the Blues in Bloemfontein this afternoon, while the Stormers come up against the Crusaders at Newlands this evening.

The DA demands drastic action at Home Affairs

The DA has called for the resignation of the Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and her deputy amid reports of a crisis. Home Affairs has placed a national embargo on the issuing of normal passports as there are no new passports available for processing. This means a maximum of one-thousand-600 passports can be issued country-wide, against the average of sixty-thousand per day. Opposition MP Sandy Kalyan says the minister and her deputy need to step aside to make way for a coherent and effective strategy for turning Home Affairs around.

Another horror accident on Moloto Road

Six people, including a three-month-old baby boy, were killed in a head-on collision which wiped out two families and orphaned two children on Mpumalanga’s notorious Moloto Road. The smash, which left five people critically injured, happened late Thursday afternoon near Jakkalsdans. Earlier this month, 17 people were killed when a bus slammed into a panel van and a car in the same area. The Pretoria News says two of the victims were burnt to death when their car exploded in a ball of flames. The newspaper quotes a police member as saying government has to do more besides widening and resurfacing roads.

Two South African pilots die in DRC air tragedy

Two South African pilots were killed when their plane crashed while approaching the town of Lubutu in the northern regions of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Captains André Nel and Charles Greyvenstein died on Thursday when the South African-registered Convair 580 aircraft they were piloting fell from the sky. The pilots were flying cargo under contract for a Congolese airline from Goma to Lubutu. Two Congolese crewmembers also died in the crash. Phindiwe Gwebu of the Civil Aviation Authority said that two South African investigators are waiting for permission from the DRC to begin their investigation at the site.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Passport crisis at Home Affairs

Home Affairs has placed a national embargo on the issuing of normal passports as there are no new passports available for processing. This means a maximum of one-thousand-600 passports can be issued country-wide, against the average of sixty-thousand per day. Simultaneously another crisis is being experienced in Gauteng with the availability of temporary residence permits. The permits have also not been printed and as a result were not available in regional offices. Attie Tredoux, a specialist immigration legal practitioner, says it is the first time in the country's history that the department simply has no new passport blanks available for issuing.

Comrades legend Wally Hayward dies

Comrades legend Wally Hayward has died at the age of 97. The Comrades Marathon Association says the veteran runner died at an old age home in Johannesburg last night. Hayward's athletic career spanned a period of 60 years, during which he competed and excelled at distances from 100 metres to 100 miles. He won his first Comrades Marathon at the age of 21 in 1930. He represented South Africa in the Empire and Olympic Games and set world records for ultra-marathon distances. Hayward’s most dramatic moment came in 1989 when he completed the Comrades down run at the age of 80. The association says as one of the great characters of the race, Hayward will be cherished as an icon.

Cricket news

The start of the second day of the second test between New Zealand and South Africa has been pushed back one hour due to early morning mist here in Cape Town. The decision by Protea captain Graeme Smith to send New Zealand in to bat first in the second Test at Newlands could possibly cost South Africa dearly in the end. Smith won the toss yesterday and decided to field – the first time a captain has done this at Newlands since 1928. The bowlers performed reasonably well, taking six wickets during the day, but the Kiwis have posted a dangerous score of 265 with four wickets still standing.

Zuma rape trial continues

ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma is expected to spend another uncomfortable day in the Johannesburg High Court today as state advocate Charin de Beer wraps up her closing argument in his rape trial. She is likely to ask Zuma’s defence team to reveal his HIV status. They reportedly have Zuma's medical records at hand. On Wednesday, De Beer called Zuma arrogant if he thought the court would accept his word unchallenged that he was HIV-negative. Zuma denies raping a 31-year-old HIV-positive woman in November last year and says the sex was consensual.

Mbeki lauds Ma Ellen

President Thabo Mbeki has hailed anti-apartheid veteran Ellen Kuzwayo as a queen and a giant of our world. He was delivering the eulogy at her funeral service in Soweto this morning. Hundreds of people gathered at the St John's Anglican Church in Orlando East in Soweto this morning for a final farewell to Ma Ellen, as she was affectionately known. She died last week of diabetes related complications at the age of 91. Mbeki described her as one of South Africa's finest daughters for her contribution to the liberation struggle and South African literature. She will be buried at the Doornkop Cemetery.

Student Congress says only educated are free

By Busisiwe Mtabane

The South African Student’s Congress says that not all South Africans are reaping the fruits of the country’s democracy. SASCO issued this statement during yesterday’s freedom day commemoration. The organisation says that only the educated are free. They say citizens can make a meaningful contribution in building and consolidating democracy in this country only through education. SASCO spokesperson Tembile Yako says the graduate placement programme, launched by deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka last year is not visible at all.

Rap star released on bail

US rapper Snoop Dogg has been released from police custody following a fracas at London's Heathrow Airport. The delay meant he had to cancel a gig in Johannesburg last night as part of South Africa's Freedom Day celebrations. Snoop Dogg was granted bail and will appear again in court next month. The BBC reports that the star and five others were arrested for alleged violent disorder and held in custody overnight. Seven police officers were left with minor injuries after the incident. It is not clear at the moment whether Snoop Dogg’s concerts in Durban and Cape Town will go ahead as planned. The group has been banned from flying British Airways for the foreseeable future.

Traditional healers could soon be writing sick leave notes

Employers in South Africa may soon have to accept notes from traditional healers when their employees have been off work due to illness. The Traditional Health Practitioners Act, which was passed earlier this year, paves the way for employees to submit sick notes from traditional practitioners to their employers. Reports states that this has fuelled fierce debate with regard to the related costs to employers. A survey conducted by Lekana Employee Benefit Solutions across all work sectors last year showed that sick leave costs employers around 642-million rand a year. This figure does not include lost productivity. The Act will be implemented once the Traditional Healers' Council is formed and registered with the Department of Health.

SANDF sergeant charged with murdering his two children

The SANDF sergeant who has been accused of shooting his son and daughter at the Hoedspruit Military Base in Limpopo is due to appear in court today. Police say he will face two charges of murder, one of attempted murder and one for illegally possessing a rifle and ammunition. The sergeant has also been charged with murder and rape during his stint with peacekeeping forces in Burundi. The suspect allegedly shot his two-year-old son and four-year-old daughter with an R-Four rifle. He also wounded his wife before he was arrested.

Thousands of new cases of social grant fraud exposed

The Department of Social Development has announced that more than 35-thousand new cases of social grant fraud have been uncovered. Minister Zola Skweyiya says the crimes came to light through tip-offs to the department's national fraud hotline. The cases cover a two-year period. Last year the Department found that more than 12-thousand public servants were receiving social grants which they were not eligible for. Of these, 750 were successfully prosecuted. More than two thousand officials signed acknowledgements of debt. The investigations against the others continue and a number of court cases are pending.

Striking security guards attack motorists on the N2

It is alleged that a group of striking Security Officials burned tires and wood on the N2 between Spine Road and Mew way, and threw stones at passing vehicles yesterday morning. Police spokesperson, Inspector Bernadine Steyn, says a Mercedes truck tried to avoid the group by turning around and a group of about 30 Security Officials threw stones at the truck, and the 52-year-old truck driver from Mossel bay ran away. Steyn says the driver was slightly injured on his back.

Zille to lay charges against her attackers

City of Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille says she intends laying criminal charges against the individuals who attacked her at a meeting in Crossroads on the Cape Flats last week. Zille was addressing the media during Freedom Day celebrations in Mitchell’s Plain yesterday and said she would not allow South Africa’s hard won freedom to be besmirched by a few individuals who had little respect for other people’s rights. She suffered a blow to the head during the attack in Crossroads and had to be escorted out of the hall to safety. The attack has been condemned by government, but the Democratic Alliance says this is not enough and government should take legal steps against those responsible.

In other Freedom Day speeches countrywide politicians emphasised that service delivery was still lagging and had to be urgently addressed. President Thabo Mbeki also warned councillors and businessmen that fraud and theft would not be tolerated. Speaking in Kimberley, he said those found guilty of these crimes would face the full force of the law.

Passport crisis at Home Affairs

Home Affairs has placed a national embargo on the issuing of normal passports as there are no new passports available for processing. This means a maximum of one-thousand-600 passports can be issued country-wide, against the average of sixty-thousand per day. Simultaneously another crisis is being experienced in Gauteng with the availability of temporary residence permits. The permits have also not been printed and as a result were not available in regional offices. Attie Tredoux, a specialist immigration legal practitioner, says it is the first time in the country's history that the department simply has no new passport blanks available for issuing.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

More gang violence in Hanover Park

Alleged gang violence continues to threaten the lives of the people of Hanover Park on the Cape Flats. A 70-year-old woman sustained a bullet wound to her stomach last night when she was caught in the cross-fire while she was on her way to church. A 19-year-old man was also wounded in the hand when two men allegedly fired shots in Athburg Walk. Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn says both victims are in a stable condition in hospital. She confirmed that cases of attempted murder are being investigated and says indications are that the shooting can be linked to the ongoing gang war in the area.

Air crash victims identified

The names have been released of the three Cape Aero Club pilots who died when their light aircraft nose-dived into trees at Camphill Village near Atlantis on the West Coast yesterday. The club’s president Schalk Burger says chief instructor Jaochim Rod Rodrigues from Durbanville and Mohammed Abdallah from the Sudan were on a training flight, while Rossouw van der Watt had gone along for the ride.

Suspected murder suicide in Pietermaritzburg

Police suspect a murder-suicide in yesterday’s death of a student and critical burn wounds sustained by her boyfriend in a blaze in a room in Pietermaritzburg residence of the University of KwaZulu-Natal. Police are withholding the identities of the 23-year-old woman and 27-year-old man. The man is reportedly in a critical condition in hospital. The Mercury reports that the university's security staff gained entry to the burning flat after responding to a call and managed to put out the flames that engulfed the man, who was lying on the floor. The woman, whose body was allegedly on a bed, was already dead.

Zuma trial reaches a climax

Closing arguments will begin in the Jacob Zuma rape trial in the Johannesburg High Court today. The State will have a last chance of convincing the court that Zuma lured a HIV-positive woman into his house before allegedly raping her in November last year. The complainant has testified that she twice turned down Zuma’s offers for a massage before the alleged rape took place. Zuma’s defence team is expected to continue its attack the complainant’s sexual history, saying that she has cried rape on a number of occasions before. Several witnesses gave evidence in this regard.

Police constable's boyfriend to appear in court for attempted murder

A Soshanguve police constable had to flee for her life when her boyfriend began firing shots with her service revolver after an argument. Police says Christina Mdlalose fled to her neighbours after her boyfriend took her revolver from a safe and began firing. Police negotiated for hours with the man before they could persuade him to hand over the firearm. The suspect will appear in court today. And in Johannesburg, a gang of armed robbers who broke into the Parktown Boy’s High School first greeted a class of Grade 11 pupils politely before robbing them. Police have confirmed that the robbers forced their way into the school through a hole in the security fence around the property. They put a gun to the head of teacher Shelly Lennox and then robbed her and the pupils of cell phones, watches and cash. Principal Tom Clarke says that 370-thousand rands had been spent on security at the school last year.

Meanwhile, 13 prisoners were still at large in Mpumalanga late last night after they broke out of the Sakhile police station. A total of 22 awaiting trial prisoners escaped in the mass break out, but nine were re-arrested soon afterwards. The escape took place after the prisoners stole the keys to their cells after a fight during which police officers were distracted.

Marathon star banned because of illegal substance

Athletics South Africa has announced that double Olympian and current national marathon record holder Gert Thys has been suspended for substance abuse. Thys tested positive for a steroid after winning the Seoul International Marathon and has been suspended from all competition pending a final result of the case. Thys says the charge is ridiculous as the drug Nandrelone has no advantage for marathon runners. He has already contacted a lawyer for assistance.

Manchester United to play in this year’s Vodacom Challenge

British glamour team Manchester United are expected to attract packed stadiums when they play in this year’s Vodacom Challenge. The off-season tournament previously pitted two teams from the African continent against Chiefs and Pirates but changed the format this year to accommodate Man United. The Sun reports the move has been praised by both Pirates and Chiefs. The managements and players of both sides see this year’s tournament as the first step towards preparing for the 2010 World Cup. Man United’s director Bobby Charlton says he is delighted to be part of the tournament as it will enable his team to prepare for the new season.

Government and Aids activists reach consensus

Government and community activists in South Africa have reached consensus on the need to fast-track the development of an ingredient that can kill or inactivate HIV cells during sexual intercourse. The prevention product can take the form of a gel, cream, sponge or ring. These products release the active ingredient during intercourse. The developers claim the microbicides could possibly prevent more than two million new HIV infections in the developing world over the next five years. The claim was made at a conference on HIV/Aids in Cape Town. The conference, attended by one-thousand-300 delegates from all over the world, ends today.

Striking security guards to march in major cities

The strike by security guards, already in its third week, continues today with marches across the country. The strike that has turned violent on several occasions began when workers and employers could not reach consensus over a pay increase of eleven percent. Trade union Satawu says protest marches would be held in Pretoria, Durban, East London , Bloemfontein and Polokwane. Memoranda will be handed over to the departments of labour and safety and security. Union leaders are to address workers during the memorial service for Western Cape security committee chairperson Sibongile Tutu in Langa tomorrow. Tutu was gunned down in the early hours of Monday morning.

Meanwhile, Satawu has pledged its full co-operation with police investigations into the deaths of six people thrown from a train in Benoni yesterday. Police say the gruesome murders could possibly be linked to the strike by security guards. Satawu spokesperson Ronnie Mamba says that if their members are found to be implicated, the union would assist the police in any way it can. The naked bodies of five men were discovered on railway tracks between the Van Rhyn and Alliance stations in Benoni. A sixth man who was also pushed out of a train died on the way to hospital.

The ANC expresses concern over adverts

The ANC says it has learnt with concern of the adverts placed in weekend papers calling for applications for the position of the city manager of the City of Cape Town. The ANC’s Patrick McKenzie said in the Western Cape legislature, it is the party’s understanding that
the validity of extending Wallace Mgoqi’s contract is a matter for the courts to decide and in the absence of such a ruling, it is safe to conclude that Mgoqi is still the City Manager.

Meanwhile, the ANC has released a statement saying the party condemns the disruption of the meeting held by Mayor Helen Zille in Crossroads on Saturday. The ANC says it has been concerned about the situation in Crossroads for some time. The party has been worried about the lack of free political activity in the area.

The DA urges the government to act decisively

The DA says the South African government must act decisively to protect Roy Bennettfrom the Mugabe regime and grant him political asylum without delay. The DA believes that Bennett's application for asylum provides the South African government with an ideal opportunity to signal to Harare that it believes there is a crisis in Zimbabwe. It was reported earlier that Bennett would have to join the queue of asylum seekers.There is a backlog of 103 000 applicants.

Three people die in an air crash

Three people were killed when a light aircraft crashed near Cape Town on Tuesday afternoon. The twin-engined aircraft crashed at Atlantis on the Cape West Coast. Phindiwe Gwebu of the Civil Aviation Authority said that the aircraft took off from Cape Town International Airport and was on route to the Delta 200 general flying area north of Cape Town for a training flight. The accident took place just after one this afternoon. The reason for the crash will be investigated.

Fracas in Cape Town management continues

The Independent Democrats’ caucus leader in Cape Town, Simon Grindrod, will deliver a letter to ousted city manager Wallace Mgoqi on Tuesday recommending that he vacate his Civic Centre office until the Cape High Court determines the legality of his contract on the 9th of next month. Mgoqi continues to defy mayor Helen Zille by refusing to vacate his post and by going to work every day.

Meanwhile, Grindrod has expressed disappointment and concern that Zille has not agreed to attend a meeting with ANC leaders to discuss the attack on her in Crossroads on Saturday. Grindrod says he is very disappointed that Zille has communicated through the media that she does not see a point in meeting to discuss the incident. He added that he attempted to get the ANC and DA to talk face-to-face and find a way to ensure that this kind of thing never happens again.

Five people die in North West accident

Five people, including three police officers, were killed in a crash on the N-12 highway between Klerksdorp and Wolmaransstad in North West on Tuesday. The accident apparently happened when a car collided with a truck and trailer and spun into the path of an oncoming police vehicle behind the trailer. North West police spokesperson Louis Jacobs said that three police inspectors, aged 32, 34, and 35, were killed, as well as a woman and a young boy in the other car. Another police officer and a man and a woman were admitted to hospital in Klerksdorp.

NPA denies corruption allegations

The National Prosecuting Authority has strongly denied a Sunday Times report that its CEO, Marion Sparg, and her entire top management team are facing charges of alleged corruption and tender rigging. NPA head Vusi Pikoli admits that a disciplinary hearing is pending against three senior officials, relating to alleged poor administration in the NPA during the period 2001 to 2003. Pikoli says the cases against Sparg, deputy CEO Beryl Simelane and the head of the Integrity Management Unit, Dipuo Mvelase, are internal matters. But Pikoli stresses that insinuations that the NPA would tolerate corruption in their ranks for the sake of political expediency are without substance.

Taxi violence stokes’ commuters fears

Cape Town’s taxi commuters’ fears of being caught in taxi violence were realised again on Tuesday morning. Several shots were fired at a taxi carrying nine commuters in Brackenfell. The police’s Bernadine Steyn says the attack happened just before six on Tuesday morning on the R-300 between Mfuleni and Kraaifontein. Nobody was wounded but Steyn said that they are investigating a case of attempted murder. Taxi violence has recently flared up again as taxi associations compete for lucrative routes.

Three robbers shot and killed in Johannesburg

Three suspected robbers have been shot and killed in Bertrams in Johannesburg. It is understood the armed suspects broke into a house early on Tuesday morning and ambushed the owner as he went out to his car. Police spokesperson Mosima Manganyi said the man’s son had heard him scream and had rushed to his aid. She says a gunfight ensued and the son fatally wounded all three would-be robbers. Manganyi says three cases of murder are being investigated but the Director of Public Prosecutions will decide whether the robbers had been shot in self-defence.

Stellenbosch forced to cut services

In a last attempt to get people to pay for services, Stellenbosch Municipality says it will be forced to terminate water and electricity supply from the 2nd of next month to those who refuse to make arrangements for payment. Several reminders have been issued that debtors should contact the municipal offices. Although many people reacted and settled their debt or entered into arrangements to pay it off, almost three-thousand people in arrears have ignored the warnings. The municipality has appointed a service provider that will start cutting off the water and electricity supply to these consumers next month.

Kebble’s estate hopelessly insolvent

The Cape High Court has granted an order for the provisional sequestration of slain mining magnate Brett Kebble's estate. Randgold and Exploration claims Kebble owed the company millions of rands. Eyewitness News reports that papers submitted to the court on Tuesday show that Kebble’s estate was hopelessly insolvent, with liabilities exceeding assets by at least 446-million rands. A lawyer for R&E said a trustee could be immediately appointed to find out what Kebble had done with millions of rands he received from the fraudulent sale of shares.

The South African Revenue Services has already submitted a claim against Kebble’s estate of more than 180-million rands. Another mining house, JCI, says it has claims of 300-million rands. The final sequestration order will be heard on the 13th of June.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New technology boosts AIDS prevention

The government has prioritised research into microbicides as the next most powerful anti HIV and Aids prevention technology. Speaking in Cape Town at the world’s largest microbicides conference, Minister of Science and Technology Mosibudu Mangena said microbicides offered an important opportunity to give couples, but particularly women, more control in reducing the transmission of the virus. The products, in the form of a gel, cream, sponge or ring, release an active ingredient which can kill or inactivate HIV cells during sexual intercourse. Five of the six products are in advanced stages of being tested in South Africa and elsewhere in the world.

South Africans urged to conserve energy

Minerals and Energy Deputy Minister Lulu Xingwana has urged South Africans to use energy efficiently as winter approaches. Addressing a summit in Gauteng to discuss electricity distribution, Xingwana said her department was looking at ways to ensure access to safer, efficient and alternative energy sources like Liquefied Petroleum Gas for communities that do not have electricity. They are in discussions with the petroleum and gas industries to look at means of making LPG appliances and services more affordable. Reports states that the department is also conducting research on the effectiveness and viability of solar energy as a renewable energy source.

Communities urged to use government AIDS programmes

Cosatu, the Treatment Action Campaign and the South African Council of Churches are holding a conference on HIV and Aids today in Limpopo to discuss the province’s response to the pandemic. Cosatu says there is a need to build stronger partnerships between civil society organisations and government to fight the pandemic. The trade union federation says while they acknowledge the good strategies that have been put into place by government, they feel not enough has been done to mobilise communities to take advantage of the government programme. They are especially worried about reports that the number of infections have increased, especially amongst the youth.

Concern about surging oil prices

Opec ministers say there is nothing they can do to halt surging oil prices that threaten consumer nations’ economies. This could trigger a collapse in demand disastrous to producer states. The group, already producing at maximum output, concluded at talks that raising its 28 million barrels per day output ceiling would not rein in runaway prices. Reports states that oil raced to an all-time high above 75-dollars last week as Iran continued to defy world pressure to halt its nuclear programme. At the same time, a quarter of Nigeria’s output lies idle after rebel attacks and Iraq’s once considerable oil industry is mired in crisis. Meanwhile, South Africans should know by tomorrow how much more they will be paying for fuel next month. Economists say the hike could be as high as 40 cents, with another increase expected in June.

Four die in attack on house in KZN

Police in KwaZulu-Natal have confirmed that four people lost their lives when two huts were set alight by a group of people in the village of Zithulele near Eshowe. Six people received serious burn wounds. A 12-year-old boy who had been sleeping when the attack took place managed to escape and summon help from the headman of the village. The headman apparently realised the attackers were still in the house and hid in a nearby hut. The bodies of the murdered people were found after the attackers had left the scene. The motive for the attack is still unknown. Meanwhile in Delmas in Mpumalanga, a 17-year-old girl was murdered as she lay sleeping in her house yesterday. According to Police a shot was fired through an open window, hitting the girl in the back. The motive for this murder is also unknown at this stage.

Zuma’s accuser to go into witness protection

Reports indicate that the 31-year-old woman who has accused Jacob Zuma of rape is likely to be placed in the National Prosecuting Authority's witness protection programme once the trial ends. The Cape Times reports the woman has been protected by the police since she first lodged the complaint, as well as during the trial, and is not in formal NPA protective custody. Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said her protection had been discussed with the national head of the witness protection unit. Her protection would be arranged in consultation with the woman once the case was finalized he said. Final arguments in the case are to be presented on Wednesday.

The ANC agrees to mediation over attack on Zille

The Independent Democrats say the ANC’s Western Cape chairperson James Ngculu has agreed to mediation about the incident in which Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille was attacked at a meeting in Crossroads over the weekend. Local ID caucus leader, Simon Grindrod, says Ngculu has indicated that he is prepared to meet Zille, but they have not heard from Zille yet. The DA has laid charges of assault and intimidation against alleged ANC members who attacked Zille with chairs and are said to have threatened her with a knife. Grindrod condemned the incident and said he hoped Zille would agree to the meeting.

Cosatu condemns court ruling over laundry murders

There has been widespread dissatisfaction with the release of the six people who had been accused of murdering three laundry workers at a dry cleaning business in Three Rivers in Vereeniging. Labour union Cosatu has also expressed its dismay at the presiding magistrate’s finding that there was insufficient evidence against the accused. Cosatu has called for the transformation of the judiciary, to ensure that the majority of all legal officials are representative of the majority of the people. The Federation also called on the SAPS to reinvestigate the case thoroughly.

Security guards to continue strike

The strike by security guards who are members of the South African Transport and Allied Workers Union is set to continue as discussions over pay increases remain deadlocked. The strike has already been marked by violence against guards who report for work and damage to private property. Satawu general secretary Randall Howard says marches have been planned for all major city centres on Wednesday. The guards would target the Department of Labour in the hope that Minister Membathisi Mdladlana would intervene in the strike. Howard says the workers insist on an increase of eleven percent while employers have offered eight percent. All other unions have accepted the offer.

Dozens die in Egypt blasts

It is feared that as many as 30 people could have lost their lives in the three blasts that ripped through the Egyptian resort town of Dahab. Dozens more were wounded. The BBC reports the explosions occurred in a bustling area popular with tourists during the early evening when many people were out in cafes and restaurants. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called the explosions a wicked terrorist act while US President George W Bush said the attack was heinous. The Hamas-led Palestinian government and Israel also strongly condemned the bombing. Israel has offered to send emergency teams to the scene.

Holocaust will be remembered in Cape Town

A siren commemorating the Holocaust will be sounded for the first time in Cape Town at ten o’clock this morning. The minute-long siren will be sounded at precisely the same time in Israel. The Western Province Zionist Council says the Jewish Community will sound the siren annually on Holocaust Day. It is done in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people throughout the world to commemorate the loss of six million Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses and others murdered by Nazis during World War Two. A Holocaust survivor will switch on the siren at the Jewish Communal Centre in Gardens this morning.

Labour Minister calls for end to strike violence

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana reiterated on Tuesday that employers and the striking workers in the security industry were the only ones capable of bringing the ongoing violent dispute to an amicable end. Mdladlana’s comments follow fresh accusations by Satawu that he was favouring employers. Mdlalana added that Satawu leaders had to show leadership and stop their members from assaulting non-striking workers and destroying property. Speaking from Cairo, Egypt, where he is attending an African Union summit, Mdladlana said both parties, and not himself, held the key to an amicable solution. Satawu is planning major demonstrations in several big cities on Wednesday.

Monday, April 24, 2006

SATAWU leader gunned down in Langa

By Busisiwe Mtabane

The ongoing security strike marred by violence and intimidation has claimed the life of a union leader. Twenty-nine-year-old Sibongile Tutu from Langa township in Cape Town was shot dead at his home over the weekend. Tutu, a SATAWU member was in charge of co-ordinating striking security guards in the Langa area. SATAWU’s regional chairman of the security sector, Xolani Mestile says Tutu’s killing was a terrible thing and they do not know why it was done or who is responsible. Police spokesperson Randall Stoffels says they are investigating a murder case and anyone with information that might assist in the investigation can contact crimestop at 08600 10111.

Body found in sea in False Bay

Cape Town police have appealed to the public to help in identifying the body of a man found floating in the sea off Monwabisi Beach in False Bay. Fisherman found the body and called the police. Divers recovered the body on Sunday. Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said the man was dressed in a cream T-shirt and dark blue pants. She said an autopsy would be held to establish the exact cause of death.

Another charge of racism against Eskom

Eskom faces a second charge of racial discrimination. An Indian member of the trade union Solidarity has laid the charge. The claim follows shortly on the heels of that of a coloured employee, Leon Christiaans, who says he was passed over for promotion in favour of a black man. Dirk Hermann, of Solidarity, says the union laid a charge at the labour court after the Indian member had applied for promotion in 2004, but was not short listed. Hermann says the member was told by email that the company had decided to only place black persons on the shortlist in accordance with the country’s demography.

Zille vows to fight on in the townships

Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille was attacked at a meeting in the Crossroads township at the weekend. Zille says she will continue to visit the townships, but will demand police protection in future. She will also lay charges after being hit over the head and suffering bruising to her body. Die Burger reports ANC supporters hurled chairs at her and threatened her with a knife at the meeting. The ANC claims the party is against violence, but that the Zille incident must be read in context. ANC chairperson in the Western Cape James Ngculu accused Zille of provoking inhabitants of Crossroads. Zille says the claim is ridiculous.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A possible NPA scandal

National Prosecuting Authority chief executive Marion Sparg and her entire executive management team face charges of tender-rigging and corruption. The Sunday Times reports that all members of the NPA’s tender committee will also be hauled before a disciplinary inquiry this week for tender misconduct. The committee has powers to handle tenders of up to five-million rand. One of the people facing charges is the head of the NPA’s Integrity Management Unit, the statutory watchdog set up to investigate the conduct of the Scorpions and NPA employees.
Sparg, a well-known former Umkhonto weSizwe freedom fighter, is in charge of all corporate and financial services in the NPA. She reports to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, Vusi Pikoli. The alleged transgressions took place during the era of the previous national director, Bulelani Ngcuka.

A bus depot inferno in KZN

Estimated damage of more than 20-million rand was caused when 59 buses were set alight at a bus depot in Umlazi south of Durban early Sunday morning. Private motor vehicles were apparently also damaged. Police say neither the cause nor the motive is known for the attack that took place at about three-thirty. Fire-fighters have cordoned off the remaining 95-odd intact buses on the premises. A case of malicious damage to property has been opened and police experts from Pretoria are being flown in to aid in the investigation.

The situation still tense in Katmandu

Groups of protesters are defying a new daytime curfew in the Nepalese capital Katmandu. This comes a day after tens of thousands of anti-monarchy demonstrators clashed with security forces who fought back with tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition. BBC News reports that the protesters are assembled on the outskirts of Katmandu where army troops are using barbed wire to cordon off some inner alleys. The city center is being guarded by soldiers in armored personnel carriers. They seem to be concentrating on areas where crowds defied a curfew yesterday. At least 50 people were hurt in clashes as protesters, opposition leaders and Maoist insurgents rejected King Gyanendra's offer to return to a multiparty democracy.

Apartheid massacres go to court

Former Azanian People's Liberation Army commander Letlapa Mphahlele is about to go on trial accused of masterminding atrocities, including the massacres at the St James Church and the Heidelberg Tavern in the early nineties. The Sunday Independent reports that according to well-placed sources the case is among about six post-Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigations that the National Prosecuting Authority is completing for trial. The other cases include that of three men accused of poisoning Reverend Frank Chikane; the accused in the 1983 abduction and torture of the the still-missing activist, Nokuthula Simelani; a group of former security policemen accused of another abduction; and the surviving security policemen accused of two mid-1980s Eastern Cape killings of ANC activists – known as the Cradock Four and the Pebco Three.
The prosecutions are expected to stir controversy amid acrimony over post-TRC prosecution guidelines. The guidelines have been criticised for providing a de facto amnesty process in cases that the NPA declines to prosecute, despite the perpetrators either having failed to apply to the TRC for amnesty or having been refused amnesty.

Attempted murder in Kensington

By Megan Hartogh

Police are investigating a case of attempted murder after a Reservist Constable sustained a bullet wound to his right shoulder while executing a search warrant on a house in Factreton, Kensington, on Saturday night. Police spokesperson, Randall Stoffels, says that the search was done after police received information that three suspects wanted in connection with recent Hanover Park shootings were in the Matroos Plain house. It is reported that the Constable received the wound after pursuing one of the suspects who fled out the backdoor of the house and opened fire on him. Stoffels says that the 24-year-old suspect sustained gunshot wounds to his chest and abdomen after the Constable returned fire. Both the suspect and Constable are in a serious but stable condition in hospital, with the suspect under police guard.

Helicopter found seven years after crash

It is reported that a wreckage believed to be of a helicopter that went missing seven years ago has been found in a forest between Knysna and Willowmore in the Southern Cape. News24 quotes Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Phindiwe Gwebu as saying the wreckage was found on Friday with two human remains still strapped into the seats. Another body was found outside the helicopter. Records indicate that the occupants were on a leisure trip to Knysna from Port Elizabeth. The search team at the time believed that the helicopter had crashed into the sea. On board were 55-year-old Pretoria businessman and pilot Ian MacFarlane, his wife Francis and his 85-year-old father, Boyd.

Sub-Sahara Africa rising out of poverty

The World Bank says Sub-Sahara Africa is showing economic growth that could lift thousands of people out of poverty. Releasing its 2006 World Development Indicators report on Saturday, the bank said growth in the 48-country region hit four-point-eight percent in 2004, exceeding the global growth rate of four-point-one percent in the same year. Associated Press reports that 2004 was the last year covered by the survey. According to the report the trend is expected to continue this year as many African countries pursue sound economic policies, develop a good investment climate, battle corruption and use aid more effectively. The bank regards the report as the world's most authoritative set of development statistics.

Iraq chooses its top leaders

Iraq finally has named its four top jobs -- more than four months after the country’s historic general election. Jawad al-Maliki has been asked to be prime minister-designate and form a new government. Al-Maliki, a Shiite, was nominated a day earlier to replace interim Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, who had been at the center of an impasse between Iraq's political parties. The prime minister designate has a month to choose his ministers and present the list to parliament. Chosen as the new speaker of the Council of Representatives was Sunni Arab politician Mahmoud al-Mashhadani. A Shiite, Khalid al-Attiya, and a Kurd, Aref Tayfour, were elected as his deputies.

A fresh curfew in Nepal capital

The authorities in Nepal have imposed another daytime curfew in the capital, Kathmandu, in an effort to quell continuing anti-royal protests. The order was issued after more than 100-thousand people defied a similar restriction on Saturday to demonstrate in the city centre. At least 150 protesters were injured when police fired rubber bullets and tear gas. BBC News reports that the opposition has rejected the King's offer to form an all-party government, and many are demanding a republic. Nepalese Maoist rebels have joined protesters in rejecting King Gyanendra's democracy plan. Sunday's curfew will last from nine in the morning to eight in the evening.

Gibbs and Kruger released from Protea squad

Cricket news is that top order batsman Herschelle Gibbs and strike bowler Garnett Kruger have been released from the Proteas squad for the final two Castle Tests against New Zealand. This was announced by national selectors convenor Haroon Lorgat on Saturday. SuperSport quotes Lorgat as saying that Herschelle and he had a meeting on Friday, where it was agreed that a break and a fresh start next season would do Gibbs a world of good. Lorgat says Kruger is most unfortunate to have picked up a shoulder strain when he was set to play in the first Test. No replacements will be made for the two released players.

Electricity summit on the cards

A summit will be held in Boksburg on the East Rand on Monday to outline government's programme of action regarding the restructuring of the electricity distribution industry. Minerals and energy deputy minister Lulu Xingwana has issued a statement saying the summit will address issues of power outages which have been experienced by different municipalities in Gauteng. According to Xingwana the summit will also look at how the electricity distribution industry can be made more viable and sustainable - in such a way that inefficiencies such as outages can be eliminated.

A man shot dead on the N14 near Pretoria

A man has been shot dead and his wife stabbed when their car broke down on the N14 highway near Olievenhoutbosch in Pretoria. Police say the couple and their two sons were on their way to Krugersdorp on Friday night when their car broke down. They called someone for help, and while they were waiting, unknown gunmen approached them. The husband was shot and he died on the scene. His wife was stabbed in the arm. The two boys, aged six and eight, were not injured. Some of the family's belongings were also stolen. No arrests have been made yet.

Bakkies and minibuses top thieves’ wish-list

Bakkies and minibuses top South African car thieves' wish-list. That's according to annual statistics collated by vehicle tracking company Netstar for an internal report. The Independent on Saturday reports that the figures are usually a closely guarded secret only available to some insurance companies. But figures for thefts over a two-year period were leaked from the company and circulated, along with an awareness guide, apparently drawn up by police. Netstar's totals for cars stolen over a 12-month period up to October last year indicate that the most popular vehicle for thieves was the Toyota HiAce, with one-thousand-119 recorded thefts. Next were the Nissan 14-hundred and Toyota Hilux bakkies, trailed by the Isuzu KB bakkie.

The situation in Nepal still tense

The situation is still tense in Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, where riot police opened fire on thousands of protesters that streamed into the city centre on Saturday. Several people were wounded. BBC News reports that ambulances have taken away around 10 injured people. The protesters broke through a security cordon after defying a day-time curfew, with police trying to halt a march on the royal palace. Soldiers blocked approach roads to the palace with tanks, and helicopters flew overhead. The crowds have dismissed as inadequate King Gyanendra's vow to restore democracy. Opposition leaders have also rejected the king's invitation to form an interim government.

Cape Town International boasts ample parking … at last

Cape Town International’s new multi-storey parkade opened to the public on Saturday morning, alleviating major pressure on parking facilities at the airport. The five-storey parkade, with approximately four hundred bays per floor, adds two-thousand extra bays to the airport’s parking capacity, almost doubling the capacity. Airports Company South Africa senior communications officer Deidré Hendricks says parking capacity was stretched to the limit during the construction phase, leaving many frustrated airport users looking for parking. She says this has now changed however, with plenty of parking available. About 100-million rand was invested in the project.

A massive man-hunt in Mpumlanga

A massive man-hunt is under way in Mpumalanga for three armed men involved in a shootout with police near Standerton early on Saturday morning. The men were believed to be en route to a cash-in-transit robbery when police pulled over a suspect car between Perdekop and Standerton following a tip-off. A shootout ensued after which 17 suspects were arrested. Three more suspects escaped on foot. According to police Superintendent Abie Khoabane the fleeing men are armed and very dangerous, as they have been wounded in the shootout and are on the run. Members of the public are requested not to confront the suspects but to notify the police.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Southern Spears to play in Currie Cup competition

The Southern Spears will take part in the Currie Cup competition as a regional side this year. Spears CEO Tony Mckeever says the best players will be available. This follows after the three unions constituting the franchise team threatened to use the players themselves. The Currie Cup participation was in danger earlier after the Spears unions had threatened to withdraw their players because they would not be allowed to play in the Super 14 next year. SuperSport reports that SA Rugby's board of directors will decide on the competition structure until 2010 at a meeting on Tuesday. McKeever says he has sent some proposals to SA Rugby but will not divulge details.

Police open fire on Nepal protesters

Riot police have opened fire on thousands of protesters that streamed into the centre of Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, wounding several people. The protesters broke through a security cordon after defying a day-time curfew. Police are trying to halt a march on the royal palace, firing tear gas and beating back protesters. The crowds have dismissed King Gyanendra's vow to restore democracy as inadequate and are now chanting anti-king slogans. Opposition leaders have also rejected the king's invitation to form an interim government.

Nigeria pays its debt

Nigeria has paid off its multi-billion dollar Paris Club debt, becoming the first African nation to settle with its official lenders. BBC News reports that the move may clear the way for greater government spending on infrastructure, healthcare and education, and is hoped will prompt greater foreign investment. Nigeria has undertaken a programme of economic reforms and the oil exporter has been helped by record crude prices. The Paris Club is a group of 19 lenders including the United Kingdom, Russia, and Germany. After the payment in dollars worth more than 27-billion rand, Nigeria still will owe about 30-billion rand to other lenders, including the World Bank and the private sector.

SA woman wins US deportation battle

A United States federal appeals court has ruled that a woman ordered to be deported to South Africa after her husband had been killed in a car crash, has the right to apply to live in the US. Carla Freeman, a dual citizen of South Africa and Italy, could now keep her status as a spouse and could apply for the right to stay. According to Associated Press Carla was working temporarily in the US when she married Robert Freeman in 2001. She filed papers to become a lawful permanent non-citizen resident. But after her husband’s death, it was ruled that she no longer qualified for the new status because she had not been married the required two years.

Cape Town prepares for mudslides

The City of Cape Town has made contingency plans to minimise the threat of mudslides and flooding from the burnt slopes of Table Mountain after this year’s wide-spread mountain fires. Transport, Roads and Planning Executive Director Mike Marsden says the city has prepared plans in partnership with South African National Parks to address emergency situations should they arise during the upcoming winter rainfall period. As a precautionary measure, all stormwater drains below the burnt areas are being cleaned to limit the possibility of blockages and possible flooding. Various measures have also been proposed, such as special gabion weirs in certain areas to intercept debris and slow the flow of water down the slopes.

Oil prices continue to soar

Oil prices have smashed through record highs 75-dollars a barrel. This follows continued fears of supply disruptions in Iran and Nigeria and reports of gas shortages in the United States. According to CNN US East Coast oil for June delivery has set a new trading high of 75-dollars-35 before easing to settle at 75-17 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange - also a new closing record. One trader says the soaring prices can start eating into demand, and certain predictions do not help - like one by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez that oil could spike to 100-dollar a barrel if the US attacks Iran.

Granny killed in hijacking

A 56-year-old grandmother has been shot dead during an attempted hijacking. Her three-year-old granddaughter and a 23-year-old man were with her in the car. According to police the woman was reversing out of her garage in Craighall Park, Johannesburg, when four armed men approached her. While they were ordering her out of the car, the man with her ran into the house and pressed a panic button. Meanwhile, shots were fired and the woman was shot twice in the chest. She died shortly afterwards. As a security company arrived on the scene the suspects fled in the victim’s vehicle, ramming into another vehicle in Sandton. They got out and fled on foot. The woman's name is being withheld on request of her family.

Zimbabwe asks white farmers to return

Zimbabwe's white farmers have been invited to apply for land in what is regarded as an apparent U-turn by the government that seized their farms. Commercial Farmers' Union vice-president Trevor Gifford is quoted as saying about 200 applications have already been made. BBC News reports that all but 300 of the four-thousand white farmers have been forced off their land since President Robert Mugabe started his land reform programme in 2000. Much of the formerly white-owned land is no longer being productively used, as many beneficiaries have no farming experience and some lack finance and tools. Many farms were also wrecked when they were invaded by government supporters.

Three prisoners on the run

Three awaiting trial prisoners have escaped from the Athlone magistrate's court cells in Cape Town. The were supposed to appear in court for robbery and vehicle hijacking. According to police 26-year-old Sedick Abdullah, 24-year-old Abdul Kader, and Arnesto Adams, also 24, escaped late Friday morning while waiting in cells to appear in front of a magistrate. It is not clear how they escaped and police are investigating.

Tony Leon expresses shock at double murders

DA leader Tony Leon says the Goldin and Bloom murders in CapeTown have sent a shudder throughout South Africa and around the world, indicating how bad crime has become in the country. He says the South African government doesn’t admit to the severity of the problem and is not doing enough to solve it. He accused President Thabo Mbeki of attacking those who spoke openly about crime. Leon wants to know where the outrage and concern of the government is at this moment of crisis for South Africa’s communities and people.

The ANC pressurises Cape Town’s DA-run city council

The Western Cape government is taking seriously a request by ANC councillors to have Cape Town placed under provincial government administration. It is also reportedly forcing DA mayor Helen Zille to account for the continuing political strife in the council. The Mail & Guardian reports that Local Government and Housing MEC Richard Dyantyi gave Zille until Wednesday to present her side of the wrangling over Wallace Mgoqi’s contract as city manager, after a petition by the ANC. Zille has accused Mgoqi of undermining her administration, after removing him as manager on the grounds that his contract was illegally extended by the previous mayor, Nomaindia Mfeketu.

The Stormers win in Australia

The Stormers turned around their run of losses when they beat the Reds at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane. The Stormers scored 21 points in four minutes bringing the final score to 24 – 20. In Hamilton the Cheetahs narrowly lost their encounter against the Chiefs 33 – 32, after the home side led 26 – 17 at half time. The Chiefs scored two tries in the opening four minutes and a third, ten minutes later.

A Zimbabwean MP seeks asylum in South Africa

A Zimbabwe opposition party MP has applied for asylum in South Africa claiming that his life is in danger from state security forces. Former MP for the opposition party, MDC, Roy Bennett fled Zimbabwe in March and is currently in South Africa, after the state-run Herald newspaper alleged that he was linked through the discovery of an arms cache to a plot to topple President Robert Mugabe’s government. Bennett's Gauteng legal consultant, Danie Fourie, confirmed to The Witness that Bennett was safe, but unwilling to talk to the media during the delicate negotiation phase. Bennett applied through Lawyers for Human Rights for international asylum.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hundreds pay tribute to Goldin and Bloom

Hundreds of people gathered in Johannesburg’s Westpark cemetery on Friday morning to pay tribute to actor Brett Goldin and designer Richard Bloom. Goldin, who played B-Dog in the Crazy Monkey movie Straight Outta Benoni. Goldin and Bloom were gunned down in Cape Town at the weekend. Goldin would have left for England on Thursday to perform in a production of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Meanwhile, three people, including a woman, are appearing in the Wynberg Magistrate’s Court in connection with the murders on Friday. Another three suspects will appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court. A total of eight suspects have been arrested.

16 more suspects sought in connection with the Johannesburg Airport cash heist

Police are looking for 16 more suspects in connection with the multi-million rand heist at Johannesberg International Airport last month. Police spokesperson Vish Naidoo said that this information was used as motivation by the state against the granting of bail to nine suspects who appeared in the Kempton Park Magistrates Court on Friday. It is believed the 16 suspects are in Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Angola. The nine suspects have been refused bail amid fears of witness interference.

Kenyan activists take to streets

Kenyan Aids activists took to the streets of Nairobi to protest against the killing of a 15-year-old boy who they say was hacked with a garden fork by his uncle because he was HIV-positive. Police are still looking for Isaiah Gakuyo’s guardian, a week after the boy was killed in Nyeri. The protestors said the killing highlighted the stigma faced by those living with Aids in Kenya. The Star quotes Asunta Wagura, executive director of the Kenya Network of Women with Aids, who says Gakuyo was often beaten and denied food at home.

Nepal’s government imposes curfew

Nepal's royal government imposed an 11-hour curfew in the capital Kathmandu on Friday. This follows the death of another protester wounded on thursday at a rally against King Gyanendra's rule. It took the number of demonstrators killed by security forces to 14. According to ABC News, protesters were determined to take to the streets again on Friday, despite the curfew warnings. The government warned people to stay indoors and said those who violated the order would be shot. Demonstrations against the king's rule have been raging since opposition parties launched a general strike on the 6th of this month.

Cape Town fire claims two lives

A baby and a toddler burned to death in a fire at Kensington in Cape Town on Friday morning. Emergency services say a two-year-old boy and his one-year-old sister died in the blaze that broke out in their home before daybreak. A woman is being treated in hospital for smoke inhalation. The fire service’s Theo Lane said they battled for about an hour to extinguish the fire but the children were already dead when they arrived on the scene. The cause of the tragedy is being investigated.

Major banks to face public grilling

South Africa’s major banks are set to face a public grilling at an open Competition Commission inquiry into their fees. This follows the release of a report that states that the banks had earned 29-billion rands from the national payment system, of which 10-billion rands was described as pure profit. Business Day reports that the inquiry could lead to a formal investigation into how banks arrive at the fees they charge customers and whether they are hindering competition. The fees charged by South Africa’s banks are considered among the highest in the world and stand in the way of more people entering the formal banking system.

ID says it will not support ANC in Cape Town

The ANC cannot count on support from the Independent Democrats in the troubled Cape Town City Council. ID spokesperson Simon Grindrod says in a vote that would give power to the ANC in the City, the ID would abstain. Grindrod made these remarks to underscore his objection to what he described as Mayor Helen Zille's attempts to discredit the ID by implicating it in plotting and planning to bring about the downfall of her government. Zille's spokesperson said, however, that the ID had not once opposed the ANC in vote, and had supported it on nearly every occasion, including voting for Nomaindia Mfeketo as mayor.

Gauteng school children without transport

Thousands of Gauteng school children could again find themselves without transport today as the SA Bus Operators Association resumes its strike. Spokesperson for the Association Eric Cornelius says the Gauteng education department has not yet fully paid money owed to them and the strike would therefore be resumed. Cornelius said the department owed operators 22 million rands, while the Department says the figure is less than 15 million. Spokesperson Mbela Phetle says the Department was ready to pay this money on Thursday , but the Association members did not arrive to collect their cheques. He says independent bus operators have been contracted to transport children to school today.

Report on apartheid delayed

The release of a report on corruption during the apartheid years has been postponed to Sunday. The report was compiled by the South African National Anti-Corruption Forum. The Forum was led by Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi and investigated corruption from 1976 to 1994. Independent On Line says the report recommends that corruption allegedly committed during the apartheid regime be reinvestigated with the intention of prosecution. The forum wants, among others, probes of the Broederbond, the apartheid government under the rule of PW Botha and FW De Klerk and the SA Reserve Bank under the leadership of alleged Broederbond members Gerhard De Kock and Chris Stals.
In Cape Town, a member of the National Prosecuting Authority has complained of a lack of good investigators. Speaking at a conference commemorating the 10th anniversary of the birth of the TRC, Torie Pretorius told delegates that his unit lacked the capacity to proceed with the prosecutions of several apartheid-era perpetrators who failed to receive amnesty or who did not apply for amnesty. He added that the SA Police Service should appoint a multidisciplinary team to handle these investigations.

More gang attacks in Hanover Park

A 28-year-old man was wounded in a drive-by shooting in Hanover Park on the Cape Flats last night, despite increased policing in the area after the renewed eruption of gang violence over the past few weeks. At least eight people have been killed in the area recently. Police spokesperson Billy Jones says last night’s victim was wounded in the stomach when people drove by in a Jeep and opened fire on him. He is in a serious, but stable condition in hospital. Jones confirmed that they suspect the attack is gang-related, but says they are investigating all possibilities.

Drinking water declared free of rat-tailed maggots

The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry says independent audits of drinking water have proved that the water is safe for human consumption. This follows media reports that water in some areas in the Western Cape, on the East Rand and in KwaZulu-Natal had been contaminated with rat-tailed maggots. Departmental spokesperson Sputnik Ratau says the audits found no indication of maggots dropping from taps dispensing drinking water. He says maggots thrive under debris and equipment, behind walls, open septic tanks, unkempt yards and areas where there was stagnant water, but are not found in flowing, treated water.

Faster environmental economic impact studies

The Minister of Environmental Affairs Marthinus van Schalkwyk has unveiled a new system of environmental impact assessments aimed at speeding up decisions on proposed developments. This is being done in the interests of faster economic growth. The government’s information service, BuaNews, quotes Van Schalkwyk as saying developers deserved prompter answers than the two to three years it has taken in the past. He says this does not mean that development and conservation will be separated. The interests of communities and the interests of the environment will never be jeopardized.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

An Aids breakthrough

A major breakthrough in the fight against Aids has gained momentum through the science of microbicides. Professor Gita Ramjee of the South African Medical Research Council says the science behind microbicides has been in development for more than fifteen years and while early products were designed to kill the virus, newer products are targeting the attachment of the virus to the cells of the genital tract or at preventing viral replication. These products can take the form of a gel, cream, sponge or ring that releases an active ingredient which can kill or inactivate HIV cells during sexual intercourse.

Tutu slams the amount paid to apartheid victims

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has described as “incredibly un-generous”, the amount of reparation paid to victims of apartheid atrocities by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Tutu says the TRC had recommended that compensation of 100-thousand rands be paid to victims of the apartheid regime, but government has now settled on a lower figure of 30-thousand rands. Tutu says victims of apartheid deserve better. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission held its first public hearing in the East London City Hall exactly ten years ago.

Petrol could rise to record level

The petrol price could rise to a record high in June, possibly by as much as 55 cents a litre. Econometrix economist Tony Twine says judging by this week's commodity boom, it is estimated that the petrol price could rise by between 30 and 35 cents a litre next month. A further increase of between 15 to 20 cents a litre can be expected in June if crude oil stays at 72-dollars a barrel or more and the exchange rate remains close to six rands to the US dollar. The retail price of petrol shot up by between 21 and 24 cents per litre this month.

Another dramatic rescue in Plettenberg Bay

The NSRI at Plettenberg Bay has again appealed to bathers to be extremely careful of rip tides after a German couple had to be rescued at Lookout Beach. The station commander Ray Farnham has issued a number of warnings during the past week after huge sharks were spotted in the area and massive swells were experienced off swimming beaches. Some ten people have been rescued in the past few days in the Plettenberg Bay area. The German couple was eventually saved from the surf by Municipal Pro lifeguards David Isaacs, Gavin Isaacs and Denzel Sauls. The three braved the exceptionally strong rip tide to bring the couple to safety. Farnham praised the three lifeguards for risking their own lives in the dangerous conditions.

SA Rugby’s decision over Spears could go to court

The ruling by SA Rugby that the Southern Spears can not take part in next year’s Super 14 series is set to embroil South African rugby in yet another furore. The board decided on Wednesday that the Spears were not yet ready to take part in the Super 14 series. The decision could, however, see the thorny matter being taken to court and intensely argued over on the political front. The decision means that none of the existing franchises taking part in the Super 14 series will have to worry about being relegated. However, Spears CEO Tony KcKeever says they are already far down the road in their planning and will not take yesterday’s decision lying down. Legal action is definitely a possibility he added.

A special day for the Mbeki family

Today is a special day for the Mbeki family. President Thabo Mbeki will confer the Order of the Baobab on his mother, Epainette Mbeki, at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Mrs Mbeki is being honoured for her exceptional contribution to the economic upliftment of the underprivileged communities in the Eastern Cape and her commitment to the fight against apartheid. Other people receiving recognition at the seventh national orders ceremony include the University of South Africa’s Barney Pityana, King Moshoeshoe the Second of Lesotho and King Sobhuza the Second of Swaziland. Sir Seretse Khama, Botswana's former president, will be honoured posthumously.

In Stellenbosch, honorary doctorates are being bestowed on the world-renowned playwright, director and actor Athol Fugard, and the lexicographer, Herbert Ernst Wiegand. Stellenbosch University will award the honorary degrees at its graduation ceremony this afternoon. Time Magazine called Fugard the greatest active playwright in the English-speaking world. The film version of Fugard's only novel, Tsotsi, is currently enjoying world-wide success as the winner of an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. Wiegand has made an immense contribution to theoretical lexicography, Germanic studies and linguistics.

Actor's murder could be gang related

Cape Town police have arrested a total of eight people in connection with the murder of 27-year-old Brett Goldin and 28-year-old Richard Bloom. The naked bodies of the two men were found in an open field in Athlone in the Cape Peninsula at the weekend. Their hands were tied behind their backs and they had each been shot in the head. One of those arrested gave himself up to police. Two men were arrested on Wednesday afternoon and a pistol has been recovered. Six of the accused have already appeared in court. The case has been postponed until next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, police are wary of confirming that the murders are gang related but criminologists have confirmed that the modus operandi indicates a gang initiation killing. One of the arrested suspects is the brother of an alleged Americans gang leader.

Police have confirmed that they are involved in pro-active policing on the Cape Flats since gang violence erupted in Hanover Park last month. Officers are hot on the trail of six more suspects believed to be responsible for some of the violence. The men being sought are Abduraghman Engel, Brendon Davids, Elwin and Billy Botha and Charles and Jason Petersen.

Anyone who can assist the police is asked to contact Crime-stop on o8600-10111.

Universities to reshape science lectures

Higher education institutions are to reshape their programmes in humanities and increase student intake in the fields of science and technology to contribute to the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa. The group met with President Thabo Mbeki yesterday to discuss challenges facing higher education institutions. Briefing the media, Education Minister Naledi Pandor said institutions of higher learning would now admit more students for science studies as an effort to bridge the skills gap in the country. One of the points of concern raised at the meeting was the high rate of student drop-outs from universities.

Squabbles in the Cape Town Metro continue

The squabbles in the Cape Town Metro continue. The Independent Democrats’ Simon Grindrod on Wednesday called on city mayor Helen Zille to withdraw her accusation that the ID was plotting to destabilise her eight-party coalition. Grindrod says they have nothing to do with other parties’ internal difficulties. He says it appears that several members of the coalition have taken seats on the council without consulting their party structures. Grindrod adds that Zille has to control what he calls the coalition monster she created. He says the ID will support Zille on issues on which they agree. The ID and the ANC are not part of Cape Town’s new governing coalition.

Two huge cocaine hauls at Johannesburg International

Cocaine with an estimated street value of 60-million rands has been seized in two separate operations at Johannesburg International Airport. The Revenue Service’s Adrian Lackay said that customs officials had received a tip-off and found some of the cocaine in the wooden handles of handbags. Another consignment was found in metal containers that had been declared as spare parts. The drugs were on SAA cargo flights from Sao Paulo in Brazil. Police have arrested a Nigerian national at his home in Randpark Ridge in Randburg.

Five people arrested in connection with the killing of four men

Police have arrested a 31-year-old woman and four men between the ages of 25 and 39 in connection with the murder of four men whose bodies were found on an open field in Nyanga on the Cape Flats on Tuesday morning. The arrests were made in the early hours of Wednesday morning at various houses in the Brown's Farm area. The motive for the killings is not known, but police believe it is related to the deceased being involved in an alleged robbery at a house in the area. The suspects are to appear in court soon on murder charges.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

ACDP wants arrest of woman investigated

The African Christian Democratic Party says it is vitally important that the facts are established in a case where a woman was locked up for three days after allegedly wounding a burglar suspect in the foot. ACDP Free State leader Casper Nordier says ironically Minjonet de Bruin of the farm Santiago near Winburg was locked up while the alleged burglar had not been arrested. According to Nordier the rights of the alleged criminal in this case seemed to have weighed more than those of the victim. According to media reports the decision to arrest De Bruin was taken on the grounds that her version on what happened differed from that of the alleged burglar.

The Proteas crush the Kiwi’s

South Africa have convincingly beaten New Zealand by 128 runs in the first Test played at SuperSport Park in Centurion. The Kiwi’s last three wickets fell in short succession early in today’s morning session of the fifth and final day of the match. The Black Caps only managed to muster 120 runs in their second-innings chase at a winning target of 249. The victory gave Makhaya Ntini his second five-wicket haul of the match with figures of 10 for 145.
His achievement won him the man of the match award. South Africa now lead the three-match series one-nil.

SA to develop new malaria drug

The Medical Research Council has developed a drug to treat malaria using extracts from an indigenous plant and is now seeking a partner to commercialise the drug. MRC director of indigenous knowledge systems Gilbert Matsabisa told Business Report that tests had shown promising results, indicating that the drug could eradicate the malaria infection from the bloodstream. The MRC stumbled upon the plant's use as a treatment for malaria through what it calls pure serendipity. It is traditionally used as a remedy for stomach ailments. Matsabisa says the plant from the sunflower family is indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa.

More turmoil in Cape Town City Council

The battle for control of the Cape Town City Council continues with yet another claim in a letter being labelled as false. Leader of the African Muslim Party Wasfie Hassiem says he has laid a complaint with police over a claim that he and a colleague had been removed from their council posts. The AMP is one of the smaller parties that gave the DA-led multi-party administration a one-seat majority in the council. The claim is made in a letter sent to sacked city manager, Wallace Mgoqi, who continues to occupy his office. Should the contents of the letter prove to be valid, the current city leadership could crumble.

Gauteng’s school bus dilemma continues

School bus operators in Gauteng deny that busses will run as normal from Wednesday. This follows an earlier statement by the province’s education department that normal school bus operations will resume on Wednesday after some 66-thousand children were left stranded by bus operators on Tuesday. The South African Bus Operator's Association says school busses will only run normally again once the payments have been made. Bus operators claim the department owes them 22-million rands. Education spokesperson Mbela Phetlhe told the media all authentic claims for operating expenses would be settled with individual contractors by the end of the week. The department subsidises 400 of the busses that transport pupils to school in Gauteng.

Two brothers among four murdered men

Western Cape police say two brothers were among the four men found battered to death on the Cape Flats on Tuesday. Spokesperson Billy Jones said that 30-year-old Alfred Mbawu and his 26-year-old brother Anele, who lived in the area where the bodies were found, had been identified by family members. The bodies of the four men were found in a field in Lansdowne Road in Browns Farm, Nyanga. Their hands had been tied behind their backs and it is believed they were beaten to death with sticks and stones. The motive for the murders remains a mystery.

Cricket news

It would appear that South Africa are well on the way to winning the first Test against the Kiwis at SuperSport Park in Centurion. When bad light stopped play on Tuesday's second last day, New Zealand were reeling on 98 for seven after Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn had ripped through the batting line-up. New Zealand need 249 runs to win. Ntini took four for 41 and Steyn three for 35 on a pitch that continues to play havoc with the batsmen. Ntini already has nine wickets in the match.

Another policeman dies after domestic violence

Cape Town police say an off-duty policeman who had been wounded in a shoot-out with colleagues, died after the ambulance he was in was involved in an accident. Spokesperson Billy Jones says the victim had opened fire on two colleagues who had responded to a domestic-violence complaint in Nyanga. Jones says the policeman died shortly after the ambulance taking him to hospital was involved in the accident. The two other officers were slightly wounded and are in a stable condition in hospital.

Zuma will not have long to wait for judge’s decision

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma will not have to wait unduly long to know his fate after being tried for rape. Johannesburg High Court judge Willem Van der Merwe said on Monday that closing arguments would be heard on the 26th and 28th of this month with the 2nd and 3rd of next month set aside should it be necessary. News 24 reports Judge Van der Merwe as saying he wanted to wrap up the case as soon as possible for obvious reasons. Judgement would therefore not be delayed.

Gold soars as petrol is set to rise to six rands a litre

South African motorists face the grim prospect of having to pay more than six rands a litre for petrol in the near future as international oil prices continue to soar. Oil reached its highest level in nearly a year on Monday and closed on 71-dollars-12-cents a barrel on Monday. At the same time, gold has soared to a new 25 year record of 623-rands-70-cents a fine ounce. Economists say the high oil price is due to fears that there could be an interruption of supply because of the tension between Iran and the USA. America believes Iran intends producing nuclear weapons. President George W Bush on Monday refused to deny the possibility of nuclear strikes if Iran continues to defy international pressure to stop its nuclear programme.

SA’s phone charges of the highest

An international survey has found that South Africa's telephone charges are among the highest in the world. The survey by NUS Consulting compared call costs between 14 countries, including Australia, the UK, the US, Germany and South Africa. NUS Consultant Stephen Dolk says the country’s tariffs for national long-distance calls and cellphones are still the highest of the major world economies with which the country does business. But monopoly landline operator Telkom’s Pinky Moholi says NUS has surveyed South Africa along with 13 more developed countries. According to her a survey by Tarifica shows that Telkom's call charges are internationally competitive, as its information is based on 26 countries - including emerging market nations such as Argentina, Poland, Mexico and Hungary.

More evidence in Zuma’s defence

Forensic psychologist Louise Olivier told former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s rape trial that emotional transference could lead a victim of previous rape to perceive consensual sex as rape afterwards. Testifying for Zuma in the Johannesburg High Court, Olivier also questioned whether his rape accuser froze during the alleged rape at his Johannesburg home in November last year. Olivier said Zuma’s accuser could have had consensual sex, but because of transference from the past there was a change in what one believed. Earlier the complainant told the court she had been raped several times between the ages of five and 13.

Four bodies found on the Cape Flats

The bodies of four men with their hands tied behind their backs have been found on the Cape Flats. According to police a passer-by found the bodies near a scrapyard in Philippi on Tuesday morning. It appeared as if the men were stoned to death. The motive for killings and the identities of the four men were still not known.

Meanwhile three of the five men arrested for the double-murder of actor Brett Goldin and fashion designer Richard Bloom over the weekend appeared briefly in the Cape Town Magistrate's court on Tuesday morning. 25-year-old Shavon Marlie, 23-year-old Rameez Zaheed 23-year-old Clinton Davids were charged with possession of stolen property. The bodies of Goldin and Bloom were found naked in a field next to Klipfontein road in Mowbray yesterday morning. Both had single gunshot wounds to the head. Two other suspects are expected to appear together with their co-accused in the Wynberg Magistrate's court tomorrow on murder and robbery charges.

Gang members held for murder

Northern Cape police say eight people, all members of The Ducktails gang, have been arrested in Galeshewe as part of an investigation into a murder in the township. Those arrested included four school children and a woman. They were arrested for alleged robbery, assault and murder. According to police the victims of the gang were people from shops, taverns, and shebeens, who had been robbed of money, clothes and cellphones.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Zuma trial reaches a climax this week

Former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s rape trial should reach a climax this week. Zuma, who has been charged with raping a family friend in November last year, returns to the Johannesburg High Court today when the trial continues. Zuma has denied the charge and says the sex had been consensual. The defence has indicated that one more witness will be called before closing arguments are to be heard. Supporters of both parties have been present in and outside the court as the trial progressed.

Easter road death toll stands at 124

At least 124 people have lost their lives on South Africa’s roads during the Easter Weekend. This is lower than last year‘s figure, but Arrive Alive officials say it is still much too high. By late on Monday afternoon traffic had reached peaks on most of the major highways in the country with huge snarl-ups occurring in the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Free State. Motorists had to travel bumper-to-bumper on the N-Two between Sir Lowry’s Pass and Houw Hoek in the Western Cape as thousands of weekenders returned home. In the Free State two thousand vehicles an hour were counted at Warden on the N-Three. Thousands of buses were counted on the N-One from Moira as ZCC members began returning from their annual Easter weekend.

Knysna murder suspect in court this week

A man is expected to appear in court in Knysna this week in connection with the murder of 34-year-old Rosetta de Langa who is the third woman to have been murdered at the town since October last year. de Langa's naked body was found about 100 metres from her parents' home in Piramid Road, Hornlee West. Her 29-year-old boyfriend was arrested later on the same day. de Lange left her parents' home on Sunday a week ago to visit her boyfriend in Dam-se-Bos.
She never returned home and her parents reported her missing on Tuesday.

Concern over SA rugby

The Springbok rugby selectors are dissatisfied with the performance of some of South Africa's top players in the Super 14 series. With the series rapidly coming to and end, there is no certainty that any South African team will qualify for a semi-final berth. Volksblad reports the Crusaders from New Zealand and the Waratahs of Australia have already booked their places in the semis. The convenor of the Bok selection committee Peter Jooste says some of the players are not producing the goods and this makes their task much more difficult. The selectors therefore intend inviting between 40 and 45 players to a training camp from the 17th of next month.

Police arrests five men in connection with the murder of well-known actor and his friend

Actor Brett Goldin and fashion designer Richard Bloom have been murdered. Their bodies were found in an open veld between Athlone and Rondebosch in Cape Town on Monday morning. They had been shot. Police spokesperson Billy Jones says five people had already been arrested in connection with the murders. The motive for the murders seemed to be robbery. Goldin and Bloom disappeared over the weekend. Goldin played the role of B-Dog in the hit-movie, Crazy Monkey. Jones says the five men who have been arrested will appear in court soon on murder and robbery charges.

Drowned canoeist identified

The canoeist who capsized and drowned in Johannesburg’s Emmarentia Dam yesterday morning has been identified as 52-year-old Peter Sherwen. Canoeing South Africa says in a statement Sherwen was a regular participant in the Sunday morning Dabulamanzi club time trial. Spokesperson Dave Macleod says Sherwen fell off his surf-ski during the time trial, and according to fellow paddlers he disappeared from view almost immediately. Police divers found and retrieved Sherwyn's body yesterday afternoon. Sherwen was not wearing a life jacket at the time of the accident. An autopsy will be conducted to establish the cause of death.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Traffic volumes increase

Traffic volumes on South Africa’s roads are on the increase as millions holidaymakers return home after the Easter weekend. According to authorities most motorists seem to obey traffic rules. Traffic volume on the N3 heading from KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng is expected to increase to more than three thousand vehicles per hour later today. The N1 is also experiencing large traffic volumes. More than 500 vehicles moved through the Verkeerdevlei Plaza north of Bloemfontein late this morning. The heaviest traffic volumes are however being experienced in Limpopo, as millions of Zionist Church members return from their annual Easter pilgrimage to Moira. Heavy traffic is also being experienced on main roads in the Western Cape.

Hijacker drives over woman

A Pretoria woman is in a serious condition in intensive care after a hijacker drove over her with her car during his attempt to escape. According to reports 53-year-old Frieda Lombard was about to pull into the driveway of her Waverly home on Saturday when a gunman attacked her, pulling her out of her car and throwing her to the ground beneath her vehicle. As she tried to stand up and run to safety, Lombard smashed her head on the pavement and was dragged beneath her car as her attacker reversed it car over her. Police spokesperson Lucas Sithole has confirmed that a case of hijacking and attempted murder is being investigated.

The green court’s future hangs in the balance

The future of South Africa's first environmental court hangs in the balance as Justice Minister Brigitte Mabandla considers a proposal to close it down. The so-called Green Court was established in Hermanus three years ago to counter the rape of the country's marine resources. According to reports the court had an 85 percent conviction success rate last year. South Africa has lost an estimated three-billion rand to marine poaching in the last few years. Regional head of justice in the Western Cape, Hishaam Mohamed, has confirmed that the green court may close, saying it’s one of six proposals before the ministry. Sources say the current justice ministry does not favour specialist courts.

SAA crew member held for mandrax

A South African Airways crew member has been arrested in London for trying to smuggle drugs into the United Kingdom. The 39-year-old woman was last Monday caught in possession of mandrax and cocaine stashed in her bags. SAA spokesperson Jacqui O'Sullivan has confirmed that the crew member was arrested on allegations of drug smuggling and is scheduled to appear in a London court on May the 23rd. It is understood that the whole crew of flight SA 234 were temporarily arrested by British police. The three pilots and 13 cabin staff were detained until their fingerprints were taken and the owner of the hand luggage found.

A call on government to wake up to the reality of crime

The Democratic Alliance says the government needs to wake up to the reality and brutality of crime. The party wants to know how many more people have to be murdered, raped, assaulted, robbed and tortured before the ANC government will wake up to the enormity and the brutality of the problem. The DA’s call follows a report in yesterday’s media reports, according to which 52 people were being killed daily, one-thousand-566 a month and 18-thousand-793 annually in South Africa. According to DA safety and security spokesperson Roy Jankielsohn, the media reports incidents where South Africans have fallen victims to criminals, but the government has not acted to prevent such incidents.

South African sets record in Boston Marathon

South Africa’s Ernst Van Dyk has won a record sixth consecutive men's wheelchair race in the Boston Marathon, finishing in a time of one hour, 20 minutes, 50 seconds. Van Dyk, who set a world best of one hour 18 minutes 27 seconds two years ago, is the first man to win six Boston wheelchair races in a row. Franz Nietlispach won five, but only four were consecutive. Former women's wheelchair champion Jean Driscoll holds the overall record with eight wins, seven consecutively

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Gang terrorizes families in Khayelitsha

Cape Town police are searching for a gang of men who have been terrorizing families in Khayelitsha. The men simply kick down the doors of informal houses and threaten the residents with firearms before making off with cash, television sets, clothing and other valuable items. A 17-year-old girl was indecently assaulted during one of these attacks. Police have opened a case of armed robbery and indecent assault for investigation. Anyone with information that might help them arrest the suspects can contact crimestop at 08600 10 111.

Full power for Western Cape by end of July

The Western Cape can expect full power from the Koeberg nuclear power station by the end of July. According to reports both units at the station will then be fully operational. This includes the damaged Unit One for which a rotor had to be imported from France. Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe has warned, however, that there will be shortfall of some 400 megawatts until the end of July and appealed to users to conserve electricity.

KZN soccer side take lie detector tests

Apparently the truth will come out for Tembisa Classic who caused a major upset when they edged favourites Santos out of the Absa Cup in Durban. Classic slipped in by two goals to one and now qualify for the semi-finals of the Cup. The Sunday Times reports Classic players were earlier asked to undergo lie detector tests after officials got suspicious that the team had been throwing matches during the season. The players who tipped off the Sunday Times said the tests were part of a bigger investigation to expose clubs who allegedly "influence" players from smaller clubs to sway results.

Another policeman dies in family tragedy

Another policeman has died as a result of a family tragedy. Limpopo police say the policeman shot himself in Bela-Bela after fellow officers shot and wounded him. Apparently the policeman had been involved in an argument with his wife who left the house with the couple’s three children. The highly emotional policeman then set the house alight before following his family. He shot out the tyres of his wife’s car before colleagues caught-up with him and wounded him in the ankle. The wounded man then ran back to his house where he shot himself.

Carnage continues on South African roads

The Easter Weekend carnage continues on South African roads and by late last night 54 people had lost their lives in 30 accidents since the start of the weekend. The Department of Transport says 16 people have been killed in Mpumalanga, while nine deaths have been reported in Limpopo and seven in the Eastern Cape. Six people have died on Northern Cape roads, five in the North West, four in KwaZulu-Natal and three in Gauteng. Only one death had been reported from the Western Cape.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Records tumble in Two Oceans half marathons

Zimbabweans took the honours in the 2006 Old Mutual Two Oceans marathon. Moses Njodzi won the 56-kilometre ultra marathon in three-hours, six-minutes and 50-seconds. Another Zimbabwean, Honest Mutsakani was second. A Zimbabwean and a Namibian won the 21-kilometre half marathons. Cutbert Nyasango won the men’s race in a record time of one-hour, two-minutes and 54-seconds. Helaria Johannes of Namibia also set a new record in the women’s half marathon. She finished in one-hour, 13-minutes and 35-seconds. The world’s most beautiful marathon has attracted a field of close on 18-thousand people.

Steps to curb violence in Satawu strike

Metrorail has obtained a court interdict against the SA Transport and Allied Workers' Union. The order restrains Satawu members from acts of violence and other criminal acts. According to reports Metrorail spokesperson Thandi Mlangeni says a commuter died when he was stripped naked and thrown out of a moving train in Gauteng on Thursday. Here in Cape Town, Metrorail had to suspend operations this week, saying strikers had damaged trains and placed obstacles on railway lines. Meanwhile, the SA National Security Employers Association says it has no intension of negotiating with Satawu. They say they have tried for six months to solve the wage dispute, but the union has refused to co-operate. Satawu is demanding an 11 percent increase, while the employers are offering just eight percent. Fourteen other unions have settled for an eight-point-three percent pay rise with security employers.

18-thousand people run the beautiful marathon

Close to 18-thousand people are celebrating life in the 2006 Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon. The 56-kilometre ultra marathon has attracted almost eight-thousand participants, which is a not a record field. But the 21-kilometre half marathon has broken all records and has the biggest field ever, with more than nine-thousand-600 runners taking part. The organisers of the world’s most beautiful marathon say the oldest runner in the eight-kilometre Fun Run is 102-year-old legend, Philip Rabinowitz. The oldest runner in the half marathon is 80-year-old Gert Koen. And at 76, Des Robins shows what can be done in the ultra marathon.

Police battle to control Cape Flats gangs

Community leaders say the latest fatal shooting in Hanover Park on the Cape Flats is gang related. One man was shot dead and another seriously wounded on Thursday night after three men ambushed them outside a shop. Renewed violence between rival gangs has claimed the lives of at least eight people over the past few weeks. Before the latest incident, police said their pro-active work in Hanover Park had resulted in 13 arrests. Police Spokesperson Elliot Sinyangana says some of the suspects had already appeared in court, while others would be charged next week.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Baby Boks trounced

England have ousted South Africa from the IRB Under-19 World Championship in Dubai. The Baby Boks were still in with a chance at the break when the score was 18-10 in favour of the English. But superior ball-handling and overall play outclassed the defending champions and saw England going through to the semi-finals with a comprehensive 45-18 victory. The semi-finals will be played between England and New Zealand, and between France and Australia.

Robbers warned of nuclear danger

The police in Mfuleni in Cape Town have warned robbers who stole a radio-active implement that they may have endangered their own lives. The machine was allegedly stolen sometime overnight on Wednesday from a construction site in Old Faure Road in Mfuleni. Expert at the Asla Power Joint Venture construction site, Gary Hirft, say they wish to warn the robbers that the machine may leak radio-active material if someone tampers with it.

The NSRI warns of Great Whites at Plett

The National Sea Rescue Institute has warned holidaymakers heading for the Plettenberg Bay area that large numbers of Great White Sharks have been spotted in the area. The NSRI says its crews in the area have been placed on full alert and other emergency services and helicopters are also on stand-by. Plettenberg Bay NSRI station commander Ray Farnham says he suspects that Great White Sharks have been attracted to the area by the sardine run, which is coming to an end now. Sharks varying in length from about 3.5 metres to 7 metres have been spotted. Bathers have been warned to stay in shallow water, avoid river mouths and swim only where there are life guards on duty.

Police clamp down on gang violence

Cape Town police say their pro-active work in Hanover Park, since gang violence erupted in the area again at the end of last month, has resulted in 13 arrests. Spokesperson Elliot Sinyangana says three suspects are appearing in court on Thursday for the possession of unlicensed firearms. Another six people are being charged after being caught with the drug tik. Early on Thursday morning, four more young suspects were arrested. Sinyangana confirmed that the community is co-operating and giving the police useful information. At least seven people died within two weeks when gang violence flared up on the Cape Flats again recently.

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