Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Million rands bail for perlemoen smuggler

A Rustenburg magistrate has granted a man charged with perlemoen smuggling one million rands bail while his five co-accused have been remanded. Ran Wei and the other five were arrested on the 18th of this month. A spokesperson for the Scorpions, who made the arrests, says they had busted two of the biggest illegal perlemoen processing plants yet on two farms at Marikana near Rustenberg. Investigators confiscated more than 50-thousand wet and dry perlemoen on the farms. They also took possession of a firearm, two vehicles, and a large sum of cash. The vehicles and equipment is valued at some 900-thousand rands.

Farmer and his wife murdered

An elderly Free State farmer and his wife have been found murdered. A cattle herder found the body of 78-year-old Kobus van Tonder on the farm Merino near Vrede. His 68-year-old wife Charlotte was found stabbed to death in their house. According to reports the couple had lived on the farm for about 30 years. It is believed the couple was murdered at the weekend, but their bodies were only found yesterday.

Meanwhile it is reported from Pietermaritzburg in KwaZulu-Natal that four men were sentenced to life imprisonment in two separate cases for farm murders. Thuthukami Miya was sentenced for the murder of 46-year-old Jacqueline Chatterton of Boston. In passing sentence, Judge-President Vuka Tshabalala said killings on farms gave South Africa a bad name. In an adjacent court, Judge Leona Theron sentenced three men to life imprisonment for the murder of Cedarville farmer Christiaan Colin Moolman. Two of the three killers were only 19 years old.

Jean de Villiers to lead the Boks

Local fans are still a bit taken aback by Springbok coach Jake White’s decision to let inside centre Jean de Villiers lead the ‘Boks against a powerful looking World Fifteen team. Sports commentators says it is not so much that De Villiers is inexperienced, but that the captaincy may impact on his flare for attractive, running rugby. There had been a lot of talk that flank Wikus van Heerden would captain the Springboks on Saturday in place of the injured John Smit.

Meanwhile, the World Fifteen team that arrived in the country yesterday has come with a mission and that is to be the first team of its kind to win against the Springboks. They certainly have the players to do just that with 901 Test caps amongst them. The most-capped player is flanker Olivier Magne, who has represented France 83 times. He is closely followed by New Zealand scrumhalf Justin Marshall and Australian fullback Matt Burke, who each have played 81 Tests.

DA calls for action against Home Affairs officials

The Democratic Alliance has called on the government to take swift action against what it calls incompetent officials, including the Director-General, in the Department of Home Affairs. DA spokesperson Sandy Kalyan says the auditor-general's damning report last week on the department's finances is a blight on the department's record. The department's explanation to the Home Affairs portfolio committee was unacceptable. Kalyan says it is clear that the Director-General is not up to the job and has no way of addressing the problems facing his department.

Cape Town council could find stability today

The leader of the Independent Democrat Caucus in the Cape Town City Council has called on Mayor Helen Zille to bring stability to the council during today’s vote to change the system of government. A full sitting of the council will debate an ID motion to change the system. Simon Grindrod says if the motion is successful, the DA, ANC and ID will have the chance to form a stable and representative city government which reflects the wishes of 94 percent of the voters. The current system was introduced by the ANC in 2002 and resulted in unilateral decisions being made by the mayor.

Crucial meeting regarding taxi programme

The South African National Taxi Council will meet Transport Minister Jeff Radebe tonight in an attempt to bridge their differences over the taxi recapitalisation programme. Santaco has also appealed to Radebe to do away with the May 31 deadline for the conversion of taxi permits to operating licences. Reports states that the parties have deadlocked after Radebe said there would be no extension of the deadline, while Santaco is prepared to go to court to challenge his decision. Santaco spokesperson Philip Taaibosch says the council is not against recapitalisation, but wants a document explaining what recapitalisation is all about and setting down the rules governing the process.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Court dismisses former Cape Town city manager’s application

The Cape High Court has dismissed with cost the application by former Cape Town city manager Wallace Mgoqi for leave to appeal against an earlier judgement setting aside the extention of his contract. Mgoqi’s hopes now lie with the Constitutional Court where his legal representatives have applied for leave to appeal on the grounds that his right to fair labour practice had been infringed. Judge Deon van Zyl found today that no new legal argument had been advanced. Mgoqi will now have to pay his own legal costs as well as that of the city.

Police to patrol trains and railway stations

Deputy Safety and Security Minister Susan Shabangu has promised that police will be brought in to patrol trains and railway stations across the country. Speaking at a news conference at the Cape Town railway station this morning, Shabangu said more police would be trained to deal exclusively with train security. At least 20 people have been thrown off moving trains around the country, allegedly by striking security guards.

Meanwhile, two men have died and a third is in a critical condition after the latest incidents of train violence in KwaZulu-Natal. Police say eight men attacked a passenger with a knife and stones. Two other men were attacked and thrown off separate trains. Police suspect the attacks are related to the ongoing security guard strike.

SAFA dimisses reports about the new coach

The South African Football Association's technical committee has dismissed reports that England’s Sven-Goran Eriksson is their number one choice as Bafana Bafana head coach. Committee chairperson Sturu Pasiya says that they have not offered Eriksson the job and were not interested in him. Weekend reports said that he had been offered 30-million rands per year to take over the job. The 7th of next month has been set as the new deadline to let the Safa executive know of their candidate. The names on the shortlist are Carlos Alberto Parreira, Luis Felipe Scolari, Gerrard Houllier, Claude Le Roy, Jomo Sono and Gordon Igesund.

Deputy President tells Western editors to stop generalising about Africa

Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka has told Western newspaper editors to stop generalising about Africa and concentrate more on the continent's success stories. She says issues of real concern, such as Western poaching of Africa's best and brightest talent, are being overlooked as the world's media focus on wars and poverty. Mlambo-Ngcuka addressed the annual world congress of the International Press Institute in Scotland and said out of 54 countries in Africa, only five were in conflict this year. Yet the other 49 countries are easily compromised by failure to acknowledge peace in most countries and note success of individual nations.

Three in court for train violence

Three security guards are due to appear in the Kempton Park Magistrate's Court today in connection with the spate of train violence over the past few weeks. At least 18 people have died after they were thrown from moving trains in Gauteng. The three accused were arrested in Ivory Park and have been positively linked to the security sector. This brings to 11 the total number of suspects arrested.

Meanwhile, train violence does not appear to be restricted to South Africa. British police have arrested ten youths for an attack on passengers on a London train. A spokesperson told the BBC more than 20 officers were sent to the King's Cross Thameslink station to deal with the incident.

Minister calls on youth to show discipline

Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad says the youth must have a sense of discipline, commitment and determination if they are to contribute positively to the country’s development. Pahad was speaking at the Morris Isaacson High School in Soweto during the unveiling of the 30th anniversary of the Soweto Uprisings. Pahad praised the school, saying it was here that the students started their uprising against apartheid education in 1976. He said the school was a national heritage.

New law aimed at protecting children to be tabled

A new law that will promote greater community involvement in preventing drug abuse among the youth will be tabled in Parliament soon. The Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Bill is being prepared by the Social Development Department. Social Development Minister Zola Skweyiya says the new legislation will be more sensitive towards the needs of children who are often victims of unscrupulous drug dealers and pushers. The minister called on NGO’s and churches to become more involved in addressing the problems children are faced with. He pointed out that first time substance and drug abusers were only nine or ten years of age.

ANC raps its Youth League over the knuckles

ANC secretary-general Kgalema Motlanthe has called on the ANC Youth League to retract its calls for Jacob Zuma to be the party's next president. Motlanthe, who was being interviewed on television, said the Youth League ought to be guided by the policies of the party. Motlanthe defended President Thabo Mbeki's statement that a woman should be the next president, saying he understood that Mbeki was merely referring to the gender policy of the ANC. Motlanthe added that the ANC would seek bilateral talks with its alliance partners, the SA Communist Party and the Congress of SA Trade Unions about criticisms they had expressed against the ANC.

Tennis history made in Paris

The exciting clay court expert Rafael Nadal of Spain had to beat both the weather and Sweden’s Robin Soderling at the French Open in Paris to set a new world record of 54 straight wins on clay. At times it seemed as if the strong wind that made stroke playing difficult and kept blowing dust into Nadal’s eyes would prevent the record being broken. However, the Spaniard put this all behind him in the third set to win 6-2, 7-5 and 6-1. Nadal, who is the defending French Open champion, beat the record of 53 straight wins on clay set by Guillermo Vilas of Argentina in 1977. He was presented with a special trophy for his magnificent performance.

Meanwhile, US Open champion Kim Clijsters took a further step towards capturing the women’s French Open title at her third attempt with a straight set victory of 6-0 and 7-6 over Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano. Clijsters was the Roland Garros runner-upin 2001 and 2003.

Soccer World Cup 2010 under the spotlight

The 2010 Soccer World Cup to be hosted by South Africa looms ever closer and all issues surrounding the massive undertaking are being discussed at a conference of municipalities in Kempton Park. Business and other role players are being given a chance to study opportunities for the tournament, for which government will be spending over 400 billion rands. CEO of the FIFA Local Organising Committee Danny Jordan said the tournament would have great spin-offs and a lot of economic opportunities for individuals, companies and government. He added that plans and arrangements for the tournament were well in hand and on time.

Would-be robber falls to his death

Port Elizabeth police believe a would-be robber jumped or fell to his death when he heard the owner of the flat he was robbing returning home. The man’s body was found on the pavement in Humewood. Police said that pipes down the side of the building were found to be loose and it is possible the man tried to flee by scampering down the pipes. A spokesperson said fingerprints had been taken from the body to establish whether the man had jumped to his death or whether he had tried to escape down the pipes.

Municipal by-elections start next month

The first municipal ward by-elections since the nationwide municipal poll in March start next month. The Independent Electoral Commission says the by-elections will take place from the 7th of June in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and North West. Deputy chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya says a total of 51 candidates, representing 19 political parties, and three independent candidates will contest 14 vacant wards in the provinces. The IEC says voting stations will be open from seven in the morning to nine at night for the more than 85-thousand voters registered at the 75 voting districts where by-elections will be held.

Committee hears a report on the Travelgate saga

A multi party committee of parliament made up of the presiding officers and whips has heard a report on the state of the so-called Travelgate saga, and has pronounced itself satisfied. At least, said the chairman of the National Council of Provinces, Johannes Mahlangu, there were no complaints. Vusi Pikoli, the head of the prosecuting authority, told parliament that thirty people will face the court on July 31, 23 sitting and former MP’s and seven travel agents. He said that the authority is confident that they have a strong enough case to convict all of them.

Police are investigating a murder case

By Megan Hartogh

A man suspected of murdering a 60-year-old woman was shot and killed by the woman’s brother in his Crawford home earlier today. According to reports, the homeowner and his wife confronted the suspect, who had a knife, when going downstairs to investigate on noises that they heard. Police spokesperson, Bernadine Steyn, says that the homeowner followed the suspect to the back door, where he was attacked with a spade. Steyn says that it was during this time that the homeowner fired shots at the suspect, who sustained a fatal bullet wound to his head. Steyn says that the 60-year-old woman was found in a downstairs bedroom with multiple stab wounds to her neck.

Secrecy surrounds witnesses in Goldin and Bloom murder trial

A veil of secrecy has been drawn around the status of two accused in the Brett Goldin and Richard Bloom murder case who have turned state witness. According to reports correctional services officials refused to comment on whether the pair had entered the State witness protection programme or were still being held at Pollsmoor Prison. In terms of the plea bargain, the two accused will each serve 12 years in prison. The alleged gang boss Igshaan "Sanie American" Davids is facing charges of intimidation after he allegedly threatened to kill several of his brother's co-accused if his sibling was convicted.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Minister promotes new site for the world’s largest telescope

Science and Technology Minister Mosibudi Mangena is in the Northern Cape today, to showcase the proposed site for the construction of the Square Kilometre Array. Government information service BuaNews reports that South Africa is bidding to host the world’s largest radio telescope, the 1-point-5 billion dollar Square Kilometre Array, along with Australia, China and Argentina. An independent international site selection committee, made up of experts from around the globe, has to study and compare all bids to rank the potential sites and ultimately select the best possible location. A final decision on where this major science instrument will be built is expected in 2008.

Eskom rolls out another energy saving project

By Busisiwe Mtabane

Eskom and the City of Cape Town’s RED one are implementing a geyser and pipe insulation project. They are installing geyser blankets free of charge in homes in the Western Cape in an effort to save energy. Eskom urges residents to allow the technicians, who will be branded with applicable Eskom and City of Cape Town identity cards, in their homes to install a blanket and pipe insulation. Project Spokesperson Michael Acott says they urgently need the assistance of homeowners in the Cape area to improve energy efficiency.

World Economic Forum to focus on Africa’s self help

This year’s World Economic Forum on Africa is expected to focus mainly on what Africa can do for itself to increase economic growth. The Forum will take place in Cape Town on Wednesday. BuaNews reports Forum Director Haiko Alfred as saying the summit will address new risks and assess new opportunities for the continent. He says Africa’s fortunes are on the turn with the surging Chinese market bringing growth targets within reach of everybody. President Thabo Mbeki and a number of other African leaders will address the gathering.

Cold conditions in the Western Cape may lead to more power cuts

Bitterly cold conditions that are expected to prevail in the Western Cape over the next two days might lead to more power cuts. Power supply in the Western Cape recently suffered another blow as Koeberg's repaired Unit 1, has battled with a faulty valve since Thursday. Fani Zulu, national spokesperson for Eskom, said repair work on the valve continued and that everything was back to normal. Zulu added that the only remaining issue is the valve, which has forced Eskom to temporarily scale down power supply to 80%. Eskom are not considering switching off the unit at this stage.

Child Protection Week launch on Tuesday

Child Protection Week, during which the protection of children will come under the spotlight, will be launched in the Western Cape on Tuesday the 30th of May, 2006. Deputy Minister for Safety and Security Susan Shabangu will officially launch the campaign. Shabangu will be joined by the MEC for Safety and Security in the Western Cape as well as the Provincial Commissioner when they board a number of trains in the Cape Peninsula to interact with commuters. They will eventually all meet on Cape Town station where they will also speak to passengers. On Wednesday Shabangu will visit the families of 66 former homeless children who have been reunited with their families.

Pretoria to get much improved services

The city of Pretoria is to bring electricity to 112-thousand houses over the next five years. The City will also ensure universal access to basic water and sanitation to all households by 2009. This is the message from Mayor Gwen Ramokgopa who made the announcement during her inauguration ceremony at the weekend. Ramokgopa added that plans were afoot to eradicate all informal settlements by 2009. Key priorities during her tenure include ensuring access to basic services, accelerating shared economic growth as well as reducing poverty and fostering clean, healthy and sustainable communities.

Investigation into baby deaths launched

The Department of Health is to investigate the deaths of four babies at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in the Eastern Cape in an effort to determine whether there was any negligence on the part of staff. Reports states that the deaths occurred after a power failure at the hospital’s Ward 17 earlier this month. An internal investigation has found that the power failure was not due to a failure in supply from Eskom. The Eastern Cape Department of Health is installing an uninterrupted power supply system to wards 16 and 17 in an effort to strengthen back-up measures.

DRC deportees safely home

The 19 South Africans deported from the Democratic Republic of Congo for their alleged involvement in a coup plot arrived home safely last night. The men were met by emotional family and friends as they left the international arrivals hall at the Johannesburg International Airport. CEO of the Omega Group told the media that 15 of his employees were among those released from the DRC. He said the men had been involved in upgrading ports in the DRC in order to bring security in the ports up to international standards. He had high praise for Ambassador Sisa Ngombane in Kinshasa and the DRC's ambassador in Pretoria, Bene M'pako, for the part they played in resolving what he called the misunderstanding that led to the men being arrested.

Deputy Minister slams Jacob Zuma

Security guards had to rush Deputy Arts and Culture Minister Mantombazane Botha away from the funeral of Ruth Bhengu’s daughter under heavy guard after she slammed Jacob Zuma in her speech. She made a scathing attack on Zuma for making false and misleading statements about his anti-HIV shower. The Witness reports that the Botha incident has laid bare the deepening divisions within the ANC between camps loyal to Zuma and President Thabo Mbeki respectively. A number of key ANC leaders also used the funeral in Pietermaritzburg to criticise the Treatment Action Campaign for saying Nozipho Bhengu would still be alive had she taken ARV’s instead of relying on the diet prescribed by self-proclaimed nutritionist Tina van der Maas.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Controversy over Bafana coach

Reports have revealed that South African soccer is due to formalise a 30-million rands a year deal to lure England Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson to take Bafana Bafana to the 2010 World Cup. But The Tribune reports that local coaches have responded with mixed reactions to the news. Eriksson will not renew his contract with England and will be available after completing his World Cup duties, despite speculation that he might decide to coach Real Madrid. Gordon Igesund and Jomo Sono are two of the local coaches who have been shortlisted for the job, but a source in England says Safa has identified Eriksson as its number one choice.

Man arrested for rape of two six-year-olds

Gauteng police have arrested a 36-year-old man for the rape of two six-year-olds and the murder of one them at Zonkizizwe on Friday night. Police spokesperson Andy Pieke says the man is scheduled to appear in the Heidelberg Magistrate's Court tomorrow. Pieke says the two girls had been strangled by a man who had dragged them into the veld and raped them. But one of the girls survived and managed to make her way home and alert her mother. Pieke praised the local community for their assistance that led to the arrest.

Zuma walks out of ANC meeting

ANC deputy president Jacob Zuma reportedly left the party's National Executive Committee meeting long before its conclusion yesterday. City Press reports that his official return to the party following his acquittal on a rape charge turned out not to be a very welcome one, as he spent most of yesterday sitting in a waiting room while NEC members discussed the trial and its implications for the party. Sources close to Zuma say he had been unhappy to learn that discussions on the trial were going to form part of the meeting. He decided to leave after lunch yesterday when he realised that the item was still on the agenda.

Culpable homicide charges after horror crash

The driver of a bakkie, which smashed into the back of a taxi on the Golden Highway near Lenasia in the south of Johannesburg last night, leaving 13 people dead, will be charged with culpable homicide. Emergency services spokesperson Malcolm Midgeley says the impact of the crash was so great that it forced the bakkie through the taxi, causing it to explode in flames.

Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Road Accident Fund has received a claim of 90-million-rands from a multi-millionaire Swiss national who was involved in a road accident in South Africa. The unnamed man, a businessman described by RAF officials as exceptionally wealthy, lodged his claim after an injury in a motorcycle accident. RAF chief executive Jacob Modise confirmed to the Sunday Times that the man was injured while holidaying in the Western Cape, and that the claim was by far the largest ever lodged against the RAF. The claim is part of what has led the RAF to near collapse, with an accumulated deficit of nearly 20-billion-rands.

Family of four murdered

A family of four, including a teenage girl and baby boy, was found stabbed to death in their home in Newcastle on Saturday. KwaZulu-Natal police spokesperson Phindile Radebe says the father, 35-year-old Sanjiv Singh, was found underneath the bed in the main bedroom. He had been tied up and stabbed three times. His 31-year-old wife, Cheryl, was found in a bathtub filled with water. Their 14-year-old daughter, Natalie, had been stabbed once. Police suspect she may have been raped. Her 11-month-old brother, Tyron, was also stabbed once. He was found under his cot. Police says the motive for the murders is still unclear.

Police are looking for three armed robbery suspects

By Busisiwe Mtabane

Cape Town police are looking for three armed robbery suspects and are appealing for the public’s assistance. The robbery occurred at a franchise in Main road, Claremont on Saturday morning. Police spokesperson Inspector Bernadine Steyn says the suspects fled the scene in a white Jetta that was found abandoned in Rondebosch shortly after the incident. According to Steyn the Jetta was reported stolen during a hijacking on the 21st of May 2006 in Woodstock. Police are investigating a case of armed robbery and anyone with information that can lead to arrest can contact Crime Stop on call - share at 08600 10 111.

Schumacher stripped of pole

Michael Schumacher was dramatically stripped of pole position and placed last on the grid for today’s Monaco Grand Prix. SuperSport reports that the International Motorsport Federation came down hard on the seven-time champion after finding him guilty of deliberately stopping his car in the middle of the track. Schumacher parked his car on the track at the Rascasse hairpin, denying world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso the chance to topple him. Alonso was on an apparently faster lap than the German, but his Renault and the cars in his wake were forced to slow down to avoid Schumacher's car. Schumacher insists he did nothing wrong.

A girl for Angelina and Brad in Namibia

Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie has given birth to a daughter fathered by Hollywood movie star Brad Pitt. ABC News quotes a representative for the couple who says 30-year-old Jolie gave birth to their daughter, Shiloh Nouvel Jolie Pitt, in Namibia. No further details are available. Jolie has two adopted children, four-year-old son Maddox, and a daughter, Zahara, who is about 15-months-old.

Horror accident claims 13 lives

A horror crash between a taxi and a bakkie on the Golden Highway near Lenasia in the south of Johannesburg has left 13 people dead. Emergency services spokesperson Malcolm Midgeley says the bakkie slammed into the back of the taxi. The impact was so great that it forced the bakkie through the taxi, causing it to explode in flames. Midgeley says the charred bodies of the victims were burnt beyond recognition. Attempts will be made to identify them today. Five people in the taxi were injured and are being treated in hospital. The drivers of the taxi and the bakkie survived the crash.

The battle between Mbeki and Zuma continues

President Thabo Mbeki reportedly faces an outright rebellion by supporters of Jacob Zuma, who are planning to force the ANC into accepting their man as its future president. According to the Sunday Times, they are set to hijack the party’s December policy conference where they will propose that the ANC deputy president automatically becomes the next president. This would pave the way for Zuma to lead the party in 2007 and then become president of South Africa in 2009 when Mbeki’s second term ends. The ANC will elect its new president in December next year at the party’s 52nd national conference.

Cape Town helps protest victims

The City of Cape Town has established a dedicated office where people who have suffered personal injury, or any loss or damage to property during the violent Satawu protest march two weeks ago can register until the end of this month. The initiative follows the public meeting hosted by executive mayor Helen Zille. She reiterated that the city is not allowed to provide personal legal advice or institute a class action on behalf of people who suffered damages. But the city can act as a facilitator to enable possible claimants to meet with legal professionals to consider the various options available.

Premier apologises for baby deaths

The premier of the Eastern Cape has apologised for the deaths of four new-born babies at the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital in Mdantsane. Nosimo Balindlela said in a statement her government had extended their deepest condolences to all the families affected. The incubators and ventilators that had kept the babies alive shut down during a power failure at the weekend, and a stand-by generator did not kick in. Balindlela said an investigation was underway to determine if there was any negligence, and to prevent future deaths. The national department would provide support and monitor the investigation to give answers to all questions, the premier added.

Indonesian earthquake death toll rises further

More than two-and-a-half-thousand people have now been reported dead and hundreds more have been injured after an earthquake shook the area around Indonesia's ancient royal city and tourist centre Yogyakarta. The city, on Indonesia's main island of Java, is near Mount Merapi, a volcano that has put people on alert for a major eruption this month. The epicentre of the quake, which measured six-point-two on the Richter scale, was offshore but it did not cause a tsunami. Witnesses say hundreds of houses have collapsed and office and government buildings are also in ruins. Hospital patients were moved outside due to fears of aftershocks.

Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said this morning there were no indications yet that any South Africans had been affected by the quake, but South Africa's diplomatic mission in Indonesia would continue checking. The South African government has also expressed its condolences to the government and people of Indonesia and says it is ready to assist in any way possible.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

The Crusaders remain the Super 14 champs

The Canterbury Crusaders have defeated the Wellington Hurricanes 19-12 in the Super 14 final in Christchurch. The match was a visual debacle as thick fog shrouded the arena for the entire match, making it almost impossible for many in the crowd and for the commentators to see what was going on. The Crusaders made the best of the conditions, leading 6-3 at half time before scoring a converted try in the second half to wrap up the match. It is the Crusaders' sixth title in Super 12 and Super 14 competitions.

West Indies beats India

West Indies captain Brian Lara scored a sparkling half-century to lead his team to a series clinching victory in the fourth one-day international against India at the Queen's Park Oval. The West Indies won by six wickets with six overs to spare to take a winning 3-1 lead in the five-match series. SuperSport reports that the home side restricted India to a mediocre total of 217 for seven. The West Indies replied with 218 for four in 44 overs. Lara, who scored 69 off 97 balls with eight fours and a six, rescued an innings that fell behind the required run-rate.

More problems at Koeberg

Koeberg's repaired generator one is faulty again, exposing the Western Cape to more power cuts. Eskom spokesperson Tony Stott says a faulty valve has caused the latest problems. He says the technical problem causes a shortage of 200 megawatts, which residents can save if they use electricity sparingly. Koeberg’s unit one became the Western Cape’s main electricity supplier since Monday when unit two was shut down for compulsory maintenance. But Stott says unit one’s output had to be cut to 80 percent in terms of safety requirements until the fault has been eliminated. Additional electricity is being fed in from Mpumalanga.

No South Africans caught in deadly Indonesian earthquake

There are no indications yet that any South Africans have been affected by this morning’s earthquake in Indonesia. But Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says South Africa's diplomatic mission in Indonesia will continue checking. The South African government has also expressed its condolences to the government and people of Indonesia and says it is ready to assist in any way possible. More than one-thousand-700 people have already been reported dead and scores are injured after the six-point-two magnitude quake on the island of Java. The death toll is expected to rise dramatically as more bodies are found.

SABC’s pulling of Mbeki documentary questioned

The Democratic Alliance and the Freedom of Expression Institute say the SABC should explain why it postponed a documentary on President Thabo Mbeki scheduled to be screened last week. The Institute says in a statement the decision to pull the documentary at the last minute implies self-censorship. It says it can hardly be coincidental that the most troubling editorial decisions the SABC has made recently relate to the controversies surrounding the President and the former and current deputy presidents. It concludes that any reasonable person would infer that the SABC is acting in this manner because it is pro-Thabo Mbeki and anti-Jacob Zuma.

Scores dead after Indonesian earthquake

A strong earthquake has struck the Indonesian island of Java, leaving more than 50 people dead and scores injured. The quake, measuring six-point-two, flattened buildings in a densely-populated area near the city of Yogyakarta on the island of Java. Witnesses say thousands of people fled as their homes collapsed around them, after the quake struck early in the morning. Local radio say several hospitals are packed with people seeking treatment. Police told the BBC electricity and communications across the city were also down. Indonesia is in a zone of the Pacific Ocean known as the ring of fire, which is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity.

A plea bargain in the Goldin-Bloom murder case

Two men have been found guilty on several charges following the murders of fashion designer Richard Bloom and actor Brett Goldin in Cape Town last month. The two were convicted on charges of robbery, kidnapping and possession of an unlicensed firearm and ammunition. Western Cape community safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakane said in an interview that Norshad Davids and Jayde Wyngaardt would each serve 12 years in prison. The convictions follow a plea bargain. The bodies of Goldin and Bloom were found on the 17th of April. They had been shot in the back of the head.

Friday, May 26, 2006

New taxi programme to be announced next week

Government is expected to announce the long awaited Scrapping Administration Agency that is part of its multi-billion Rand Taxi Recapitilisation Programme next week. This emerged at a meeting between Transport Minister Jeff Radebe and all transport MECs in Cape Town. The Agency will administer the scrapping of unsafe minibus taxis in exchange for 50-thousand rands for those who wish to leave the industry or obtain new and safer vehicles. BuaNews reports that the programme will be operational by the first of July and will initially focus on very old minibus taxis, of which ten thousand will have been scrapped by the end of the year.

DRC tones down coup claims

The Democratic Republic of the Congo officials have toned down talks of a foiled coup plot. South Africa’s ambassador to the DRC Sisa Ngombane says it seems that some of the men might be freed and others would simply be charged with offences such as working in the country without a permit. Nineteen South Africans were part of a group of 33 men, including Nigerians and Americans, who were arrested on Friday in connection with an alleged coup plot. The DRC authorities have indicated that the detainees were being held on allegations of destabilisation of government institutions. However, according to Ngombane the men appeared to have entered the DRC legally and no military equipment has been found in their possession.

Koeberg breakdown no accident

Minerals and Energy Minister Lindiwe Hendricks has told parliament that the bolt found in the generator at the Koeberg nuclear power station did not get there by accident. The minister said that is why an investigation into the incident had been instigated. She said, however, that no announcements would be made until the investigation was completed. Hendricks’s comments on the investigation follow similar statements by Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin last month. He told the media at the time that the bolt-incident had been no accident.

Arrests made aftr deaths on trains

Metrorail says eight people have been arrested in connection with the death of several people on trains in Gauteng in recent weeks. The suspects were arrested on the West Rand and in Pretoria and face charges of attempted murder. A police spokesperson confirmed the arrests to NewsFlash and says more arrests can be expected soon. Police are investigating whether the deaths can be linked to the ongoing violent strike by security guards. Police have also arrested numerous people for traveling without tickets on trains to and from Pretoria, North Rand and Soweto. The possibility that these suspects could have been on the trains with the aim of committing crimes is also under investigation.

School principal loses job over languages

A Limpopo principal who refused to provide indigenous languages as first languages at his school has been removed from his post. African Eye reports that Pieter Nel, principal of the Capricorn High School in Polokwane, pleaded guilty to misconduct before a disciplinary tribunal this week. Nel was suspended in January this year for not implementing the new language policy which required former Model C schools to offer indigenous languages as first languages to those who spoke them at home. Nel agreed to vacate his post and will now be deployed as a subject adviser in one of the province's six regions. Nel’s suspension from duty will be lifted on Monday.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Transport workers threaten sympathy strike

The Transport and Allied Workers’ Union has on Thursday served notices for a secondary strike to all employers in the industries serviced by the union. This gives the companies seven days to appeal to the Labour Court. Union spokesperson Ronnie Mamba says if they do not, all nine sectors serviced by Satawu will be shut down by next Friday. The companies served are in the contract cleaning sector, Transnet and all its business units, aviation, where SAA and Nationwide is involved, as well as the road passenger sector, including taxi, buses, road freight and toll gates.

Concern over increase in child mortality rate

South Africa faces a massive task in reaching the Millennium Development Goals for child survival in 2015, as trends show that the mortality rates of infants and children under five are on the increase. In the mid-90’s, some 40 deaths were recorded for every thousand live births. Now the figure hovers closer to the 60 mark for infants and 90 out of a thousand for under fives. News24 quotes Dr Anupam Garrib of the Nelson Mandela School of Medicine in KwaZulu-Natal as saying for a country that has the resources that South Africa does, the infant and child mortality rates are very high.

Fraudulent claims cost the medical industry billions

The medical industry is losing billions of rand a year due to fraudulent claims by doctors, dentists, pharmacists and optometrists. Healthcare funders say fraud is costing the industry up to 12-billion rands a year. They are now clamping down, with more than two-thousand cases being investigated by the forensics management unit, a division of the Board of Healthcare Funders. One of the examples quoted in The Star is a Mthatha doctor charged with almost one-and-a-half thousand counts of fraud and more than one-thousand-700 counts of theft, amounting to over 900-thousand rands.

More Africans opposed to one-man rule

As Africa celebrates Africa Day, an Afrobarometer survey shows that Africans see one-man rule as the greatest threat to democracy on the continent. The report on the findings states that among the three forms of autocratic rule, namely one-man rule, military rule and one-party rule, one-man rule is the most rejected regime. Its disapproval ratings rose significantly from 68 percent in 1999 to 78 percent in 2005. In the past eight years, there have been four controversial attempts to amend constitutions in favour of incumbent elected presidents, in Namibia, Zambia, Malawi and Nigeria. Only Namibian president Sam Nujoma succeeded in his bid.

UN says talks about Zim agreement is premature

A senior United Nations official says it is far too premature to talk about a UN plan that would involve the departure of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. UN under-secretary general for political affairs Ibrahim Gambari made the remarks as President Thabo Mbeki expressed backing for a planned visit to Zimbabwe by UN chief Kofi Annan, who wants to negotiate a deal with Mugabe. Gambari and Mbeki held a media conference in London on Wednesday, flanked by British Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Mail & Guardian quotes Mbeki as saying the negotiation process with Mugabe would not be helped by speculation about what the outcome ought to be.

The Western Cape won’t be dependent on Koeberg much longer

The Western Cape will not be dependent on Koeberg for its power supply much longer. Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin has told the Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry that either construction of a cluster of Pebble Bed Modular Reactors would begin next year or a conventional nuclear reactor would be imported. The Cape Times quotes Erwin as saying the province should be, as he put it, cruising, by 2009 and 2010. He also criticised government and the private sector for being too conservative, as earlier investment in infrastructure would have allowed the country to avert its current electricity problems.

Warrant of arrest for British arson accused withdrawn

A warrant of arrest for the British tourist who allegedly started January’s devastating fire on Table Mountain has been withdrawn. The warrant was issued after Anthony Cooper failed to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court on a separate charge of drunk driving earlier this week. His lawyer confirmed to Eyewitness News that Cooper did arrive at court, but was very late. He appeared the next day. His lawyer says the charge won’t have any bearing on his appearance on Friday on a culpable homicide and arson charge. A British woman died in the fire which destroyed hundreds of hectares of vegetation as it burned for days.

Bus accident death toll rises

The death toll in the bus accident on the Karoo’s so-called road of death between Beaufort West and Laingsburg has risen to seven. Another seven people were critically injured on Wednesday night when a double decker bus slammed into the back of a stationary truck and overturned. The transport department’s Makhaya Mani says 13 passengers were less seriously injured. The bus was traveling from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town.

Mbeki accuses Britain of poaching skilled people

President Thabo Mbeki has sparred with the British government over what he calls its poaching of South Africa's skilled workers. He suggested Britain should train more people so that both countries could benefit. Independent Online reports that Mbeki was answering questions at a function in London where he is visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair. In their meeting, Mbeki and Blair mainly discussed progress in carrying out promises the international community made in 2005 to advance Africa’s development. Blair's chief scientific adviser, David King, said Africa was losing a net 100-thousand skilled people a year to countries in the northern hemisphere.

Call to stop Cape Peninsula evictions

The Independent Democrats caucus in the City of Cape Town has called on Mayor Helen Zille to urgently intervene to suspend evictions and water cut-offs in the city during the winter months. The ID says Zille should consider the hardship resulting from an emergency situation such as the icy temperatures that will impact on the health of the poor and infirm. Many people are facing the prospect of a winter on the streets and many are without clean water in an already unsanitary environment. Spokesperson Simon Grindrod says the party has already received more than 150 calls for help from residents of some of the poorest areas. These people have been served eviction notices by the City.

Mpumalanga farm labourers get free services

Farm labourers in Mpumalanga can look forward to free water and electricity in the near future. Local government and Housing MEC Jabu Mahlangu says a feasibility study will be carried out to see how municipalities could provide free basic services to labourers. He says these services, which are already being provided to townships and households in other settlements, include six thousand litres of free water and 50 kilowatts of free electricity per household per month. Speaking during his budget speech, Mahlangu added that more than three million rands would be set aside to assist struggling municipalities to provide clean and safe water this year.

SAAF takes delivery of new aircraft

The South African Air Force has taken delivery of its first two Hawk MK 120 fighter aircraft. Brigadier General Philip Willcock says a complete fleet of 24 aircraft is expected by mid-2007. South Africa ordered the aircraft from the British company, BAE Systems in 1999 as well as 28 Gripen fighters to equip the air force with a modern, flexible and cost-effective jet fleet. BuaNews reports that the Hawk aircraft are unique in their ability to have their cockpits configured to represent any modern front-line fighter. They are an updated version of the Hawk 100 series.

Karoo bus accident claims six lives

Six people have lost their lives in a horror bus accident on the N-One near Beaufort West. More than fifty people were injured, several of them seriously. The four passengers of the bus that were killed are believed to be two adults and two children. Police confirmed that on Thursday morning the section of the N-One that had been closed since late Wednesday night, has been re-opened to traffic. A spokesperson said the double-decker bus overturned after smashing into the back of a truck that had broken down at the side of the road. The bus was traveling from the Eastern Cape to Cape Town.

DRC slammed over arrests of SA guards

No charges have been brought yet against the South Africans arrested in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa says 19 South Africans are being held with three Americans and four Nigerians on charges of wanting to destabilize the DRC government. South African ambassador in Kinshasa Sisa Ngombane has, meanwhile, slammed the DRC for the arrests. He told Die Burger that plans to screen visual material of the men was a gross violation of their rights. Ngombane said South Africa had always had good relations with the government of President Joseph Kabila and that the DRC government was not being frank about the arrests.

Security guard shot dead in KZN

KwaZulu-Natal police have confirmed that a 38-year-old security company official has been shot dead in Pietermaritzburg. He was checking on a guard working at the Imbali Community Hall in Plessislaer when he was murdered. Police said that the incident could be linked to the ongoing strike by security workers. A spokesperson said Johannis Shoba had been shot in the neck, chest and arm. Three gunmen fled the scene after the shooting. No arrests have been made yet.

Iran tests a missile

It is reported from Washington that Iran has fired a medium-range missile in a test. US defence officials say Tehran has not yet announced the test. The test comes at a time when tension is mounting between the two countries over what the USA claims is an Iranian nuclear weapons programme. Iran has refused to stop the programme, saying it is for peaceful purposes. Officials say the missile Iran tested has a range of more than a thousand kilometres, and this puts Israel, Afghanistan and US military installations in the region within its reach.

Istanbul airport fire under control

Flights have resumed at Istanbul's Ataturk International airport after firefighters brought under control a huge fire in the cargo area. Three people were injured in the blaze, and an assessment of the damage could only begin once the area had cooled down. The BBC reports officials as saying the fire may have been caused by a short circuit. Sabotage has been ruled out despite a claim by a Kurdish separatist group. The airport is situated some six kilometres from Istanbul and is the main destination for domestic and international flights. Damage to buildings and cargo could run into millions of dollars.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

South Africans suspected in DRC coup attempt

Foreign Affairs has confirmed that 19 South Africans are being held in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The DRC government is accusing them of being involved in a coup plot. Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa said 16 of the prisoners are employees of the Omega Security Company, while three are interpreters for the Mirabilis Mining Company. Mamoepa says they were arrested on Friday with three Americans and four Nigerians. South Africa’s diplomatic mission has visited them in prison with a view to providing full consular access. Mamoepa says the investigations are being monitored but it is still unclear whether they had been involved in any wrongdoing.

Gordon’s Bay murder and robbery suspects in court

Seven suspects are appearing in the Strand Magistrate’s Court today in connection with Sunday night’s killing and terror spree in the elite False Bay town of Gordon’s Bay. They face charges of murdering 78-year-old Joy van Aarde, before breaking in at a neighbour’s home where they allegedly raped a woman and assaulted and robbed three men. The suspects are believed to be part of a gang of nine. Police spokesperson Bernadine Steyn said members of the Strand police found four of the suspects after they had crashed a stolen bakkie. Another three were arrested later. The seven suspects, all from Khayelitsha, are between the ages 14 and 22.

School children’s march against rape turns violent

Nearly five-thousand Pretoria schoolchildren were involved in running street battles with police in Mamelodi on tuesday. The Pretoria News reports that dozens of businesses were ransacked and looted. Children from five primary and secondary schools in Mamelodi East assaulted a man for allegedly raping a 19-year-old schoolgirl because police apparently failed to respond to the rape 24-hours after it happened. Irate children attacked the man with planks, steel bars and wire, before dragging him across an open field. Residents, business owners, vendors and motorists fled when the children stoned vehicles, houses and shops, stealing tens of thousands of rands worth of merchandise.


Thousands homeless after Port Elizabeth floods

Rescue workers estimate that some two thousand people have been left homeless following the massive rain storm that virtually brought Port Elizabeth to a standstill on Tuesday.

Serious damage was caused as flood waters streamed through buildings and dozens of people had to be rescued from stranded cars and homes.

Reports say hundreds of frantic residents had to evacuate their homes as the water kept rising. The more than two thousand residents who fled to safety were given shelter by family and friends. They were also offered shelter in community halls, police stations, school halls and the Red Cross and Missionvale care centres.

Labour minister cannot intervene in security strike

Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana has appealed to trade unions representing striking security guards and employers to resume negotiations. Briefing the media, Mdladlana said he had been asked to intervene in the impasse over wages and working conditions in the security industry. However, according to law, he is unable to do so. He says the law is clear and arbitration must be carried out by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. Mdladlana says he has called the most experienced commissioners to help the parties go back to the negotiating table, but the commissioners were waiting for a go ahead from the parties concerned.

Metrorail considers bringing in Defence Force

Metrorail says it can no longer guarantee the safety of commuters and is considering calling in the Defence Force to deal with the continuing violence on trains. Spokesperson Thandi Mlangeni told the media that Metrorail saw the situation as a national crisis. The statement was made after yet another victim died yesterday after being thrown from a moving train on the East Rand. Four people were injured on Monday when they were thrown from trains in the Johannesburg city centre. Mlangeni said the public would be informed as soon as a firm decision was taken on what should be done.

South Africans are favourites to win BMW Championship

South Africans Retief Goosen and Ernie Els, ranked third and sixth in the world, are two of the favourites to win the BMW Championship at Wentworth this week. SuperSport says the tournament is seen as the European Tour's flagship event, which offers a record purse of nearly 36-million rands. Briton Colin Montgomerie, title holder Angel Cabrera and US Open winner Michael Campbell are other candidates for the first prize of some six million rands.

Mbeki and Blair in bilateral discussions

President Thabo Mbeki is in Britain to hold political and economic bilateral discussions with his British counterpart Tony Blair. Their discussions will revolve around strengthening existing political and economic relations, conflict resolution in Africa and the reform of the United Nations. They will also discuss the Middle East situation, including Iran. Mbeki and his delegation, including Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, will also take time to meet with captains of industry as well as the African Diplomatic Corps based in London. Britain is one of South Africa's largest foreign trading partners.

Arrest warrant issued for Brit accused of starting mountain fire

A warrant of arrest has been issued for a British tourist who failed to appear in the Cape Town Magistrate's Court yesterday on charges of having started a massive fire on Table Mountain and drunken driving. The magistrate has provisionally withdrawn Anthony Cooper’s bail of five hundred rands. He is accused of having started the fire during the festive season last year. Thirty-six-year-old Cooper was arrested in Sea Point on the 24th of January and released on bail.

Another taxi driver wounded in Cape Peninsula

The taxi war continues unabated in the Cape Peninsula and in the latest incident, a 22-year-old driver was wounded in his left leg during a shoot-out in Philippi-East on Tuesday. Police say the driver was sitting in his vehicle in the parking area of a shopping centre when shots were fired at him from a passing vehicle. There were four men in the vehicle from which the shots were fired. The driver is in a stable condition in hospital.

On Monday, a taxi-driver was killed when a man fired several shots at a stationary taxi in the main road of Delft. Thirty-five-year-old Andries Ntsini of Gugulethu was hit twice in the chest and died on the scene. Two passengers in the vehicle were not injured. A man has been arrested in connection with the shooting.

Allan Gray turned on Kebble

Court papers before the Witwatersrand High Court show that Allan Gray Asset Managers refused to make further investments in JCI for as long as Brett Kebble remained chief executive, as of August last year. Sake reports that before that date, Allan Gray had been a keen investor in Kebble's interests because the asset managers had a positive view of the gold price, which was relatively undervalued. It appears that Allan Gray lost patience with Kebble's dubious transactions including the sale of nine-point-nine-million shares of Randgold & Exploration and Randgold Resources without the authority of the Randgold & Exploration board.

Water Allocation Reform programme to only take excess water

The Minister of Water Affairs and Forestry Buyelwa Sonjica assured members of Parliament today that the water they intend to take from rich farmers to give to emerging farmers would only be their excess water.Political correspondent reports that Sonjica admitted that there have already been outcries from agriculturalists, and that the Water Allocation Reform Programme has been delayed. Sonjica added that the Allocation Reform Programme was supposed to go hand in hand with the Land Reform Programme, so that emerging farmers were not simply given land to lie fallow.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

More people thrown from trains in Gauteng

Another person has died after being thrown off a train in Kempton Park in Gauteng this morning. Another person has reportedly been critically injured. Eyewitness News reports that details about exactly what happened are still sketchy but police are on the scene. Scores of people have been hurled from trains in recent weeks, with more than twenty such incidents reported in Gauteng. Metrorail says at least 16 people have died in the attacks in different parts of the country. The attacks started at about the same time as the security guard strike and many of the victims have been working security guards.

Another major setback for Cape Town’s mayor

Cape Town’s Democratic Alliance led coalition just simply cannot relax and get down to governing the city. Under non-stop attack by the ANC since it came to power, the DA now has to face unhappiness by one of its strongest allies. The United Democratic Movement says it may reconsider its position in the alliance because it is concerned by what it terms the dominance of Mayor Helen Zille. In an effort to save the situation, an urgent meeting is to be held on Tuesday morning. The concerns of all the alliance members will be discussed at the meeting.

Leading sports scientist warns that the Boks need a rest

One of South Africa’s leading sports scientists Tim Noakes has warned that if the Springboks are not allowed to rest for two months, the country will pay a heavy price at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. Noakes has joined Bok coach Jake White, who has also appealed that some of the country's top Boks should be withdrawn from Tests against Scotland and France. Die Burger reports Noakes as saying that some of the top players have been playing non-stop for nearly three years and their bodies can simply not take such pressure.

Two elderly people murdered in Cape Peninsula

The elite False Bay suburb of Gordon’s Bay is still in shock today after a gang of nine men went on a killing spree, leaving a 78-year-old woman dead. The gang apparently broke into the home of Johanna Retief van Aarde in Milnerton Road and beat her to death. The gang then moved to a neighbour’s home where they assaulted three men and a pregnant woman for more than three hours. Police says one of the attackers raped the pregnant woman twice and then stabbed the home owner in the back before fleeing in a bakkie. They stole thousands of rands and virtually all the clothing in the house. Four suspects have been arrested, one of them a 14-year-old who is believed to be the rapist.
Meanwhile, the body of a 74-year-old man has been found in his home in William Street, Parow in the Cape Peninsula. A neighbour found the murdered man with his feet tied and a tie around his neck. No sign of forced entry could be found. Police have launched a full investigation.

Anyone with information is asked to contact crime-stop on 08600-10111.

Reaction to Mbeki's cabinet reshuffle

President Thabo Mbeki’s cabinet reshuffle has not been met with unanimous approval. The Freedom Front Plus says it objects to the appointment of Lulama Xingwana as Minister of Agriculture and Land Affairs.

Party spokesperson Pieter Gronewald says they do not object on the grounds that Xingwana is not capable, but because they believe her appointment will delay the land reformation process.

Land reform is a particularly sensitive process and it is going to take the new minister time to study all the problems involved.

Bear goes from hero to hunted in a day

Yesterday he was a welcome guest and today he is a hunted killer. This is the fate of the first wild bear to be spotted in Germany since 1835. Bavaria’s environment minister, who yesterday welcomed the bear, says in a dramatic turn-around that the bear is a danger to humans. The BBC reports that the seven sheep killed by the bear near human habitation led to the decision to turn hunters loose on the animal. It is feared that especially children could be at risk while the bear is loose.

Monday, May 22, 2006

South African athletics star banned for doping

Athletics South Africa has announced that former Olympic and world championship 800-metre silver medallist Hezekiel Sepeng has been found guilty of having committed a doping offence. He won’t be eligible to participate in any competition for two years. Sepeng was tested out of competition by the IAAF on the 21st of February last year in Potchefstroom, where his urine sample was found to contain the prohibited substance, Norandrosterone.

Farmer dies after dog attack

A 70-year-old farmer died after he and his wife were attacked by the couple’s three bulldogs yesterday. Police spokesperson Emmanuel Reetsang says that the man’s wife was admitted to the Vryburg hospital after she sustained multiple wounds to the head, legs and arms. Reetsang says the woman managed to phone a neighbour after the attack on their farm at Stella near Vryburg. The couple's son arrived at the farm and shot one of the dogs. It is not known why the dogs attacked the couple.

Concern over vehicle prices

The prices of imported vehicles in South Africa are on average 18 percent higher than in European countries. Business Report cites a newly-released Competition Commission report as saying locally-produced vehicles also cost eight percent more. The report emanated from the commission's investigation into excessive pricing in the South African new vehicle market. The document, which has been submitted to the mid-term review of the motor industry development programme, or MIDP, found that vehicle affordability, a stated objective of the MIDP, had not been achieved.

Heavy rains relieve drought in the Eastern Cape

The heavy rains of the past few days have relieved the drought conditions in the Eastern Cape, bringing much relief to the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality. The municipality had been experiencing serious water shortages over the past months, causing the authorities to impose water restrictions. Spokesperson Lourens Schoeman says the average dam levels had dropped to as low as 40 percent. However, it is now expected that the Kouga and Churchill dams will reach 50 percent capacity later this week following rains in the Langkloof and Baviaanskloof.

SACP calls for strike intervention

South African Communist Party deputy secretary-general, Jeremy Cronin, has called for Labour Minister Membathisi Mdladlana to intervene in the eight-week-long security guard strike. The minister said earlier that he was powerless to intervene. Independent Online reports that the SACP central committee called on all parties, and especially the employers, to move immediately to good faith negotiations and also called on the department of labour to urgently consider intervening. SACP secretary general Blade Nzimande said the party was not inclined to dismiss lightly the claim that some of the violence may be the work of agents provocateurs deliberately planted into marches

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Satawu justifies violence by security workers

The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union, Satawu, has justified the violence by its striking members, saying it comes with the territory. City Press quotes Satawu general secretary Randall Howard as saying although the union does not condone violence, the environment within which security workers find themselves has in some cases made them vent their frustrations violently. He says violence does not justify anything, but it must be recognised that the frustrations of workers who work in a criminal environment, when they do go out on strike, will find expression in the manner it has been seen.

MDC wins key by-election

It is reported that Zimbabwe's main opposition party has retained its parliamentary seat in a key by-election in Harare’s Budiriro constituency. State radio reports that the main faction of the divided opposition Movement for Democratic Change polled more than seven-thousand votes on Saturday’s election, against less than four-thousand for President Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party. A smaller MDC camp only managed 504 votes. Last week Mugabe vowed to defeat the MDC.

The latest on Team Shosholoza

South Africa's Team Shosholoza achieved two fifth places in Saturday's opening two races of the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act Eleven fleet racing event being held in the Mediterranean off Spain. Their performance improved their ranking from eighth tot third overall in the qualifying rounds of the Americas Cup challenge. In Saturday's first race the South Africans beat Cup defenders Alinghi by three boat lengths. They also beat Italy’s Luna Rossa and America’s BMW Oracle Racing, the winners of the Louis Vuitton Act Ten event. In the second race they finished two places ahead of Emirates’ Team New Zealand and in the process again beat BMW Oracle Racing.

Adverse weather experienced over large parts of the country

The Weather Service says the past Saturday was generally the coldest day of the year so far. However, it is not over yet, as more wet, windy and cold weather is forecast for large parts of the country for today. Temperatures have plummeted across the country over the weekend, bringing heavy rainfall, snow and windy conditions in some parts. Several roads and passes in the Eastern and Western Cape are reportedly blocked by heavy snow, and in northern KwaZulu-Natal heavy rains caused floods that left thousands of people homeless. Adverse conditions are expected to continue today – especially over the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, the Southern and Eastern Free State and the KwaZulu-Natal Drakensberg. And Gauteng is not excluded from the cold.

Mixed support for Zuma as president

President Thabo Mbeki’s handling of the Jacob Zuma crisis receives most support from whites, Indians, the over-50s and the wealthy, while Zuma himself is favoured mostly by blacks, youths and people living in Soweto, Durban and Pietermaritzburg. This is according to a Sunday Times survey commissioned last week. The Markinor survey was conducted by telephone in 12 metropolitan areas and among an even spread of income groups. More than half of black respondents believed Zuma should be the next president and that Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka would not make a good successor to Mbeki. The only other politicians of note according to the respondents were businessman Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, suggested by seven percent as future presidents.

Israeli airstrike kills senior Gaza militant

An Israeli airstrike in Gaza City has killed Islamic Jihad's most senior militant in the Gaza coastal area. The Israel Defence Forces has confirmed to CNN that it conducted an airstrike targeting Mohammed Al Dahdouh. Palestinian sources also identified Al Dahdouh as a fatality and said three others were killed in the strike - a woman, her 4-year-old son, and the boy's grandmother. Initially Palestinian sources incorrectly said the victim was a Hamas commander.

Man arrested for allegedly abducting his nephew

A 29-year-old man from Kraaifontein in the Western Cape has been arrested for allegedly abducting his three-year-old nephew, who is still missing. According to police inspector Bernadine Steyn the man was arrested at a railway station in Kraaifontein, and is expected to appear in the Kuilsriver magistrate's court on Monday. Police have appealed to the public to come forward with information that could assist in the search for the boy, Martin Lewis. Martin and his uncle went missing from their house at Newrest informal settlement, Wallacedene, in Kraaifontein on May the tenth.

World leaders back Iraq cabinet

World leaders have welcomed the formation of the first full-term Iraqi government since the 2003 US invasion. The cabinet unites members of the major Shia, Kurd and Sunni parties and is to hold its first meeting today. In reacting to the news, US President George W Bush said the future was a great challenge but there was an opportunity for progress. British Prime Minister Tony Blair described the move as a huge step forward, and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa called it a step on the right path. Jordan's King Abdullah the Second said he hoped the government would fulfil the aspirations of Iraq's people for a better life, democracy, pluralism and stronger national unity.

The Amakhosi crowned Absa Cup kings

Kaizer Chiefs were crowned new Absa Cup champions when they beat Orlando Pirates 5-3 in a penalty shootout at Durban’s King's Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The two teams were deadlocked in a goalless draw at the end of the mandatory 90 minutes and additional 30 minutes of extra-time. Chiefs goalkeeper Rowen Fernandez secured the match with a saved penalty and slotting in the winning penalty kick. The victory is generally regarded as the Amakhosi’s biggest achievement this season, as it was the only silverware they could pocket.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Satawu wage talks deadlocked again

Wage talks for security guards have deadlocked again after negotiators failed to agree to proposals from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration. According to a media statement by the CCMA it proposed that the SA Transport and Allied Workers Union suspend its eight-week-long strike and employers suspend disciplinary measures against guards who misbehaved during the industrial action. However, on return to the process on Friday the parties confirmed that they had moved further away from each other. The CCMA said as a consequence and with great reluctance it had to acknowledge that the current process was deadlocked.

Millions pledged to police leadership training

The organisation Businesses Against Crime has pledged nearly 20-million rand to police leadership training over the next two years. This was announced at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between BAC and the South African Police Service in Pretoria on Friday, formalising their involvement in a support programme for police stations by training constables. Speaking at the signing ceremony, deputy national police commissioner Mala Singh said BAC and the police realised the importance and significance of investing in leaders, as the leaders represent the future of the police service. The estimated contribution by BAC of 19-point-two million rand over the next two years will be used to train about eight-thousand police officers.

Guantanamo inmates ambush guards

Inmates at the United States detention centre at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba have attacked guards after luring them with a staged suicide attempt. According to a military spokesperson the detainees used weapons crafted from fans and light fixtures. The disturbance was reportedly quelled with minimum force. Six inmates were hurt in the clash. The latest incident coincides with a United Nations call on the US to close down the camp. The UN Committee against Torture said the US should release detainees or give them access to a judicial process. About 460 detainees are held at Guantanamo, which opened after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Semi-finalise of the super 14 today

Most South African rugby supporters are expected to don light-blue clothing this morning – be it pyjamas or something more suitable to keep out the winter chill. The reason being the Bulls’ Super 14 semifinal clash against the Crusaders at Christchurch’s notorious Jade Stadium. The New Zealand franchise is widely tipped to win the encounter, but the fact that the Bulls are not the favourites could prove the opposite. Should the Bulls upset the rugby cart today, they will face another New Zealand outfit, the Hurricanes, in the final next weekend.

Survivor SA’s participants almost finalised

The final 14 participants in Survivor SA Panama will be chosen on Monday. However, M-Net will do everything possible to keep the names of the elected participants a close secret up to and until the viewing of the first episode of the reality series on September the third. The results of the last medical tests are expected on Monday, when the participants on the shortlist will be informed who will be going to Paraguay. Die Burger reports that six additional participants will be chosen should anything happen to any of the 14 participants, or should any of them decide at the last moment to withdraw.


City calls on those affected by SATAWU march
By Nadia Samie

The City of Cape Town has called a meeting for all members of the public who suffered injury or damage to their property during the SATAWU-organised march on Tuesday, May 16, through the streets of the CBD.

A presentation will be held by members of the City’s legal department on what options are available to those who would like to seek damages. A question and answer session will be held so that individual concerns can be addressed.

The meeting is to be held on Monday, May 22nd, from half-past-four until seven-o-clock in the Council Chambers, 6th floor, Podium Block, at the Civic Centre.

Potential claimants who wish to attend should call 021 400 4873 or 021 400 3042 to register their attendance and give details of the damages suffered. Alternatively, registration details can be handed in at the information centre in the Civic Centre Concourse. Registration will be open all day Friday 19 May, and will close at 14:00 on Monday 22 May.

Cape Town Mayor threatened

Cape Town mayor Helen Zille was forced to cancel an official visit to Khayelitsha on Friday evening to open a new restaurant after police warned her that striking security guards were planning to attack her. The Cape Argus reports that Zille received a telephone call late Thursday night during which a high-ranking police official warned that members of Satawu would be waiting for her. Zille said on Friday that she took that to mean her life would be threatened. Satawu spokesperson Randall Howard rejected the allegations and said any possible attack against the mayor had nothing to do with union members.

SA National Taxi Council plans to march

The leadership of the SA National Taxi Council, Santaco, backed by between 18-thousand and 20-thousand taxi operators, is planning to march to the offices of Transport Minister Jeff Radebe next week to deliver a memorandum listing its grievances about the taxi permit conversion process and the taxi recapitalisation programme. Santaco's general secretary, Philip Taaibosch, confirmed to Business Report that Santaco wanted the cut-off date of the 31st of May for the conversion of taxi permits to operating licences to be extended. However, the Transport Department this week reiterated its position of no further extension of the deadline for the conversion process for taxi operators.

Low-performing schools to get support

Education Minister Naledi Pandor has outlined initiatives that she says will deliver the final death blow to the legacies of apartheid education. Pandor said during the debate in Parliament on her budget vote, five-thousand low-performing schools would be provided with education support in the form of libraries, laboratories and teaching materials. Teachers would be supported through high-quality, school-based education development programmes and strengthened district development teams. The strategy will cost an estimated 12-point-five-billion rands. Pandor admitted that the majority of children left school with very poor or inadequate skills. The problem will be addressed through the professional development of teachers.

White landowners urged to share

White landowners have been warned to start talks about sharing their land before it’s too late. The ANC chairperson of Parliament’s land and environmental affairs select committee Peter Moatshe warned in the National Council of Provinces on Friday that people who yearn for land are running out of patience. He questioned the pace of land reform and said land owners were unwilling to comply with the Freedom Charter, that states that all South Africans will share the land. Moatshe said land reform would have to be speeded up if government wanted to achieve a 30 percent distribution of land to previously disadvantaged people by 2015.

Friday, May 19, 2006

COSATU General Secretary deported from Zimbabwe

By Nadia Samie

COSATU General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, has been deported from Zimbabwe. Vavi was invited to Zimbabwe by the National Congress of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, to represent COSATU. He was, however, barred by the Zimbabwean government from the congress, which is to take place from the 19th to the 22nd of May, along with representatives from Norway, Zambia and Swaziland. COSATU spokesperson, Patrick Craven, says that Vavi was on a flight scheduled to land back in South Africa this afternoon.
Craven says that the ZCTU is applying for an urgent court interdict to reverse the deportation. If this is successful, Craven says, Vavi will return on the next available flight, or, if necessary travel by road.

Mgoqi ordered to leave

Axed Cape Town city manager, Wallace Mgoqi, has lost his application to declare his dismissal unlawful. Cape High Court Judge Deon van Zyl has ruled that he should vacate his office. In a unanimous decision, the full bench of three judges also declared the extension of Mgoqi's contract invalid. Former Cape Town mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo extended Mgoqi’s contract just before the local government election in March this year. No order has been given on costs. Mgoqi has 14 days to study the judgement.

Solidarity welcomes Mbeki’s comments

President Thabo Mbeki’s comments that there should be no discrimination between members of the designated group in the implementation of affirmative action, have been welcomed by the trade union Solidarity. The President’s comments were made in response to the case of a coloured Solidarity member. An arbiter found that Eskom had acted correctly in appointing a black applicant in preference to the better qualified coloured person, on the grounds of the low percentage of black staff in the department in question. Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans says companies should have clear guidelines on ways in which affirmative action can be implemented without creating new forms of discrimination.

Security employers to take a hard line at talks

Security industry employers say they will take a hard line in Friday’s talks to bring an end to the strike that has been dragging on for nearly two months. A joint statement by employers say their continued participation in the talks depended on the Satawu agreeing to call off the strike and bringing an end to the violence associated with the dispute. Before the talks, Satawu’s national coordinator Jackson Simon called on employers to set the issue of disciplinary hearings aside and to focus on workers' demands. He said employers’ insistence on Satawu calling off its strike would get in the way of good faith negotiations.

In another development, the Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied Workers’ Union say they would be forced to intensify consultations with members to embark on secondary strike actions in solidarity with their security colleagues if real negotiation don’t take place. The union says they are concerned that employers continue with their unwillingness to address in a meaningful way the low wage earned by security employees and the terrible conditions they work under.

Police search for gang of four

Cape Town police are hunting for a gang of four armed men who attacked a cash van in Observatory on Friday morning. They robbed the guards of an undisclosed amount of money. The attack happened outside the Spar on Station Road. Eyewitnesses say one of the gang members was armed with a machine gun. They held up the guards and loaded the money boxes, which had just been collected from the shop, in a getaway vehicle before speeding away. The police’s Billy Jones confirmed that no shots were fired and no-one was wounded in the incident.

Ceppwawu to monitor the negotiations between Security Employers and SATAWU

By Busisiwe Mtabane

The Chemical, Energy, Paper, Printing, Wood and Allied workers Union says it will monitor closely the negotiations between Security Employers and SATAWU that are scheduled to continue today. The union says should the Employers continue with their unwillingness to enter into real negotiations Ceppwawu will have no other option but to intensify its consultations with members to embark on secondary strike actions in solidarity with their colleagues in the Security Sector. Ceppwawu Deputy General Secretary, Keith Jacobs says that they will further call upon Cosatu at its Central Executive Committee meeting to be held on Monday and Wednesday to seek for a dialogue with the Minister for Safety and Security to discuss the brutality of Police actions as seen on Tuesday in Cape Town.

Bafana Bafana on the road to recovery

Bafana Bafana starts on the road to recovery when they play Swaziland in the opening Cosafa Cup clash in Gaborone tomorrow. If Bafana get past Swaziland, they will play the winner of the other Group B game between Botswana and Madagascar in Sunday's group final. Reports states that the new Bafana Bafana caretaker coach, Pitso Mosimane, has the enthusiasm and new ideas that were lacking in Egypt. Mosimane says he will not underestimate the Swazi side who are also in a rebuilding stage and under a new coach from Belgium.

The Scorpions bring in billions for the state

The Scorpions have returned 50-billion rands in seized assets to government coffers since their establishment. Speaking at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Africa conference on economic crime, the head of the Directorate of Special Operations, Leonard McCarthy also said the unit had established a definitive link between economic crime, organised crime, corruption and money laundering. According to Business Day, McCarthy added that there was substantial political will in South Africa to fight crime and corruption. He said it was encouraging to see South Africa trying to create a legacy of systems and procedures to fight crime.

An accident claims a life near Stellenbosch

Boland emergency services had to rush to the scene of an accident in the Hellshoogte Pass near Stellenbosch this morning. One person was killed and about 25 others injured when a double cab bakkie and a bus collided. Assistant Stellenbosch fire Chief Wayne Smith says the bakkie was trapped under the bus and the driver died on the scene. A heavy duty crane had to be brought in from Cape Town to free the body. The workers being transported in the bus had to be treated for minor injuries.

Mgoqi’s fate decided today

The Cape High Court will hand down judgement today on the legality of the extended contract of axed Cape Town city manager Wallace Mgoqi. Two applications were heard by a full bench of the court last week. Mgoqi applied to have the council meeting at which his contract was revoked, declared invalid. The city applied to have a decision of former mayor Nomaindia Mfeketo to extend Mgoqi's contract by a year declared invalid. Mgoqi's legal representative contended that his client was unfairly dismissed, in violation of his labour rights. The city's counsel argued against Mfeketo's authority to alter Mgoqi's contract.

Power shortages expected in Western Cape next week

Measures to prevent electricity shortages are continuing in the Western Cape in light of expected power shortages next week. Eskom says the anticipated 400 mega watt shortages are due to the plan to shut down Koeberg Unit Two to allow for annual refuelling and maintenance outage. Eskom CEO Thulani Gcabashe has urged consumers in the province to continue to save electricity and thanked businesses, organisations and individuals who pledged to help and support Eskom in the drive to conserve energy.

Ntini wins SA Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year awards

Fast bowler Makhaya Ntini has won both the SA Cricketer of the Year and Test Cricketer of the Year awards for the second consecutive year. The awards were announced at a function in Johannesburg last night. Ntini, nominated in five of the SA international categories, capped an outstanding season by scooping the premier awards, which acknowledges the achievements of a player who has excelled consistently in all forms of the game and who is recognised as world class. Shaun Pollock won the One-Day International Cricketer of the Year and also the Players’ Player of the Year Award.

Cosatu strike could cost SA two billion rands

Economists estimate that yesterday’s Cosatu general strike could cost the South African economy more than two billion rands. They say the strike actually defeated the aims of organising unions as it would have a negative impact on job creation and poverty alleviation. According to reports Chief Operations Officer at the Business Unity of SA Vic van Vuuren says the size of the stay-away should not be underestimated. He said while there had not been a massive national stay-away, some industries had been hard hit. He said there had been a loss of more than a billion rands in the mining industry where some mines reported 100 percent stay-aways.

Cosatu, meanwhile, claims there had been what it calls a brilliant response to the call to strike. The union federation called on the government and employers to treat unemployment and poverty as a national emergency. It wants to see far more of the country’s growing wealth being ploughed into job creation projects, training programmes and the provision of basic services.

Cosatu has also announced that General Secretary Zwelinzima Vavi has been invited as a guest to the National Congress of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions which is to taking place today and tomorrow. Vavi left for Harare last night. Several other international invited guests to the congress, including those from Norway, Zambia and Swaziland, have already been deported from Zimbabwe by the authorities. Cosatu is waiting to see whether Vavi will be allowed into the country.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Police raid casino

Northern Cape police have confirmed that they have raided premises in Springbok where illegal gambling was being allowed. More than 40 slot machines were confiscated and thrown down an unused mine shaft. A police spokesperson said the raid was part of an operation to eradicate all illegal gambling taking place in the province. A number of arrests are expected in connection with the practice of illegal gambling.

ID leader calls for army support

The Independent Democrats’ Cape Town leader Simon Grindrod has delivered a letter to Western Cape Premier Ebrahim Rasool asking for the army to be deployed to tackle the taxi war and gang-related violence on the Cape Flats. Grindrod says it is clear that the Police Service is overstretched and requires urgent support. Grindrod adds that the armed forces are well-equipped and trained to restore order on the streets and that the primary responsibility of the State is to protect its citizens. Grindrod also says those responsible for mayhem and murders have to know that their reign of terror will not be allowed to continue unchallenged.

Strike update

Cape Town’s Golden Arrow bus service says the people who torched two buses and stoned others in Khayelitsha early this morning were wearing Cosatu sweaters. The company’s Corporate Relations manager Vuyisile Mdoda says the burnt busses were totally destroyed in the incident. He says a driver was assaulted, passengers stoned and eight more buses were damaged by stone-throwing. Despite the attacks, buses ran normally by eight this morning.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape branch of Cosatu has cancelled a planned rally in the Good Hope centre, after a planned march in the city was banned in the wake of Tuesday’s violent Satawu march on Parliament. Regional secretary Tony Ehrenreich says the rally was cancelled in the light of the strong condemnation from the city administration and the provincial government following the violence. Ehrenreich says Western Cape Cosatu members have nevertheless downed tools to protest against job losses and poverty. A strong police presence is noticeable in the city.

In Johannesburg, workers gathered at Beyers Naudé Square and are making their way to Newtown. The public have been warned to expect road closures in cities where marches have been organised. Many mineworkers and workers at motor manufacturers in the Eastern Cape have not turned up for work, but reports say teachers have largely ignored the call to strike and classes in most schools are proceeding normally.

Concern about today's planned mass action

Residents and businessmen have expressed fears of possible further violence in major cities such as Johannesburg and Durban as Cosatu goes ahead with planned marches.

The organisation claims more than a million people will take to the streets to protest against unemployment and poverty. The planned march in Cape Town has been called off following Tuesday’s violence in the city. However, Cosatu secretary in the Western Cape Tony Ehrenreich says a rally is to be held instead. Ehrenreich appeared in court on Wednesday on a charge of public violence.

Cosatu has unreservedly condemned the acts of violence in Cape Town. Cosatu says all today's marches will be peaceful, law-abiding and disciplined.

Meanwhile, Cabinet has condemned Tuesday's violent protest action by some security officers in Cape Town and called on the employers and Satawu to co-operate with the processes put in place to resolve their differences. Cabinet also noted today's plans by Cosatu for a national strike. Government spokesperson Joel Netshitenzhe says the strike is not only unwarranted, but also counter-productive and the principle of no work, no pay will be applied.

Cape Town commuters left stranded

Hundreds of Cape Town commuters have once again been left stranded after several Golden Arrow buses were vandalised in Khayelitsha early on Thursday morning. At least two buses were set alight and nine others stoned in the attacks. It is not yet clear whether striking security guards or feuding taxi operators were responsible for the damage. Metrorail has also suspended its central line serving Khayelitsha and Kapteinsklip in the wake of a spate of vandalism and arson on trains and at stations that has been blamed on striking security guards. Fed-up commuters say they are living in fear and want to know why they should pay for other people’s grievances.

Shocking child rape statistics

Forty percent of all rape cases reported in the past year involved children. Police statistics show that more than 22-thousand children were raped during the past financial year and that more than one thousand had been murdered and more than 30-thousand assaulted. Beeld quotes HRC chairperson Jody Kollapen as saying that society itself must do more to help protect children's rights, and not simply rely on the justice system. He says there is a great difference between children’s rights and what happens in practice and the country is facing a crisis in this regard.

A High Court judge sentences a child rapist to 15 years

A Pretoria High Court judge has sentenced a child rapist to 15 years' imprisonment instead of handing down a life sentence because the rape was not what he called brutal. Acting Judge Natvarial Ranchod is quoted as saying there were substantial and compelling circumstances in the case, which prevented him from imposing the minimum sentence of life imprisonment on 44-year-old Jack Mabena who was convicted of raping a nine-year-old girl at his house in Soshanguve near Pretoria. Ranchod said the fact that the rape was not brutal and that Mabena was a first offender, who had reached middle age without clashing with the law were substantial and compelling circumstances.

Cabinet defends Kasrils

The Cabinet has leapt to the defence of Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils, defending him against allegations that he could have been involved in illegal underhand activities in the run up to Jacob Zuma's rape trial. Its is reported that the cabinet meeting also rejected suggestions that information published recently about the suicide of Zuma's wife could have originated from the presidency. It says that it appears that the information published about the death of his wife came from the inquest dockets which are not in the possession of the presidency. Cabinet spokesperson, Joel Netshitenzhe says the airing of such private matters is irresponsible, repugnant and distasteful.

Johannesburg launches massive clean-up project

The City of Johannesburg has launched a multi-million rand clean up-operation in the Central Business District. The campaign will also target the suburbs of Hillbrow, Joubert Park, Yeoville, Berea, Braamfontein and Doornfontein. Addressing the media, Councillor Ruby Mathang said government was committed to providing the residents and visitors with a safe, clean and healthy environment. Not only will rubbish and rubble be removed, but overcrowded buildings that are poorly maintained will be thoroughly inspected. Such buildings have proved to be a hazard to the occupants

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

City holds SATAWU accountable for violence

By Megan Hartogh

The Cape Town unicity has announced that it condemns the violence that erupted during Tuesday’s SATAWU strike in the city centre.

According to the mayoral committee member for safety and security, Dumisani Ximbi, the city will be claiming damages sustained during the march, during which COSATU regional secretary, Tony Ehrenreich and Evan Abrahams, regional secretary of SATAWU, along with 39 others were arrested. During a press conference held earlier on Wednesday, Ximbi said that this would be done as SATAWU and its members broke various agreements made between them and the City, in order to have the march. He also announced that public meetings would be held in order to help those whose property was damaged during the strike. Meanwhile, those who were arrested on Tuesday, are currently appearing in the Cape Town Magistrate’s court. Ehrenreich and Abrahams’s bail has been set at two-thousand-rand, while bail for the 39 SATAWU members has been set at one-thousand-rand each.

More evidence against Truman Prince

New evidence is to be admitted against former Central Karoo municipal manager Truman Prince and his three co-accused. According to reports this morning, all charges against the accused were provisionally withdrawn yesterday to allow for the new evidence to be introduced in the case. Prince faces charges of crimen injuria, riotous behaviour, malicious damage to property and theft. He was dismissed as municipal manager shortly before the local government elections in March.

Absa Cup Final tickets sold out

The Premier League has confirmed that tickets for the Absa Cup Final clash Saturday between Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates at the Absa Stadium have been sold out. The PSL's marketing director, Ntambi Ravele, says those who do not have tickets should not bother to go anywhere near the stadium as security will be very tight. Ticket holders have also been urged to get to the stadium early, because there will be plenty of entertainment prior to the game between the two Soweto giants.

Steps to curb violence at schools

The education department says teachers may search anyone on school property without a warrant. Business Day reports that after a meeting with the heads of nine provincial departments, Duncan Hindle, the education department’s director-general, said department heads had recommended regulations declaring schools as zones free of drugs, alcohol and dangerous objects. Hindle added that despite the department’s measures to make schools safe, communities needed to co-operate to make safe learning environments possible. The meeting followed a month of violence in schools that resulted in the deaths of at least two pupils and many injuries through knife and gun-related violence.

Meanwhile, it is reported that a policeman's teenaged son claims he took a loaded gun to school to protect himself from bullies. A loaded 9mm gun was found in the school bag of the 15-year-old grade 10 pupil from a high school in Barberton in Mpumalanga. Reports states that the boy allegedly told police that the bullies from another school used the same bus. Police asked him to point out the boys at the other school and warned them to stop bullying him. The boy has appeared in court on charges of the illegal possession of a firearm. The case was postponed to the 29th of June.

Train commuters stranded due to arson

Hundreds of Cape Town commuters have been left stranded on a cold, rainy morning after Metrorail was forced to suspend its train services on the Khayelitsha-Kapteinsklip line. This follows incidents of arson last night and this morning. The Heideveld ticket office was set alight last night and a train coach went up in flames this morning at the Khayelitsha station. Metrorail spokesperson Riana Scott says the service resumed at ten this morning. The arson attacks are being investigated.

New housing deal brings hope to thousands

The Cape Town City Council and three commercial banks have signed a ground breaking partnership that will boost affordable housing in the metropole. ABSA, Nedbank and Standard Bank signed the agreement in Mitchell’s Plain yesterday. The agreement will make it easier for subsidy beneficiaries to obtain small loans for home improvements while their new homes are being built. Mayor Helen Zille said at the ceremony that it was this kind of initiative that would provide the starting point for solving the housing crisis in the province. Potentially thousands of subsidy home owners stand to benefit from the initiative.

Bad news for people and their retirement plans

People who have started saving for their retirement may find that they have not made enough provision when they actually do retire. This is the startling finding of a survey carried out by the Old Mutual. Spokesperson John Kotze says the survey covered 60 retirement funds. He said in Johannesburg that it was found that many fund members were not aware of what they will be getting on retirement. He says poor management of the industry is responsible for no adequately advising investors. Kotze said this could have a devastating effect on many people.

Labour union leaders spend night in jail

While Capetonians licked their wounds after the mayhem caused by striking security guards in the City yesterday, 38 members of the security industry spent the night in jail. Among those arrested were labour union leaders. Cosatu’s provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich was one of those arrested. The suspects are expected to appear in court this morning on charges of public violence. Police confirmed that numerous shop and car windows were smashed in during the march on Parliament. Police used rubber bullets, teargas and stun grenades in an effort to control the mob terrorising people in the City centre. A number of pedestrians and a journalist were assaulted and robbed. Some of the striking security guards were armed with baseball bats and sjamboks. Cosatu has condemned the violence, saying workers have once again harmed the good name of the labour organisation. Violence can never be justified, Cosatu said in a statement. Mayor Helen Zille will announce later today how the City plans to recover damages from Cosatu. The Freedom Front Plus has added its voice to those who condemned in the strongest possible terms the pandemonium caused by strikers yesterday. Spokesperson Willie Spies says the government should consider urgent steps to stop the murder and violence caused by Satawu members. Spies says the situation borders on a state of emergency.

Meanwhile, talks aimed at resolving the crisis in the security industry have once again deadlocked and are scheduled to resume on Friday. Employers and the guards' negotiators must then respond to a compromise deal proposed by mediators.

Cape Town residents and businessmen have expressed their deep concern about tomorrow’s planned Cosatu march, that police say will go ahead despite yesterday’s mayhem. There will be what police called maximum deployment of officers in the City to protect people and property. Union spokes people have expressed concern that there will be a poor turnout for the march because workers, including teachers, will be concerned about their safety. Education MEC Cameron Dugmore has expressed concern about the possible disruption of schools during tomorrow’s protest action. He says supervisors must take reasonable steps to ensure that their areas of responsibility continue to function. Staff absenteeism will be monitored and the principle of no work, no pay will be applied.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Striking security guards turn violent in CBD

By Nadia Samie

Chaos has erupted in the Cape Town CBD as a march by striking security guards has taken a turn for the worse. Businesses in the CBD have been forced to close their doors.

Eyewitnesses say that police have thrown stun grenades into the throng of marchers in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The strikers allegedly tried to set two cars alight.

Sandra Hartogh, who works in Commercial Street in the CBD, says that their store had to close its doors, as gunshots were fired. Hartogh says she and her co-workers watched in horror from the rooftop of their building as strikers ran riot through the streets, vandalising property as they passed through.

A Sapa journalist is reported to have been stabbed in the chaos. Police are currently trying to move the marchers towards the Cape Town train station.

The strikers were marching from Kaizergracht to hand over a memorandum to Parliament when the chaos erupted.

Stella Sigcau laid to rest

By Megan Hartogh

Former minister of Public Works, Stella Sigcau, will be laid to rest in the place of her birth today. President Thabo Mbeki, is scheduled to address mourners, who have been flooding into the towns of Port St. Johns and Lusikisiki in the Transkei to pay their respects to Sigcau. Sigcau, who was first appointed the minister of public enterprises in 1994, and later minister of Public Works in 1999, died last week in the St Augustine Hospital in Durban after suffering heart problems. She was 69 at the time of her death.

Eskom misses first deadline

Eskom missed its first deadline yesterday for the switching-on process for Koeberg's Unit One because of technical problems with the unit's generator. Die Burger reports that Unit One could not be synchronised with the national power network as planned. However, Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says the good news is that Eskom’s accelerated energy-saving plan is now bearing fruit. He says it was predicted that the Cape would have a projected shortage of more than 323 Mega Watts by yesterday. But the energy-saving plan is running so well that it has reduced the shortfall to such a degree that controlled power outages have not yet been necessary.

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

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