- Mandy de Waal
There are many people who witness corruption and malfeasance. They know its impact on society, and want to improve the system. Yet they don't report it. It comes at great risk, personally and professionally, let alone financially. The deputy public protector has a plan. He suggests adding a sweetener… Money. By GREG NICOLSON.
There is a lot of populist speak in the air these days. From issues of land and mining, to electricity and bridging the inequality gap, the major political organisations are trying to tap into popular sentiment. The Freedom Charter, in its 60th year, is back en vogue. There is no doubt that the radical speak of the Economic Freedom Fighters is forcing the African National Congress to adjust their own parlance to keep up and look as if radical economic transformation was their idea first. The United Front is a new player in the political milieu and is launching a ground level campaign to capture mass support. In the mix of issues is how they are dealing with the xenophobia phenomenon in the very constituencies they are all competing for. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
For some years, going back to Steve Tshwete’s period as minister of police from 1999 to 2002, legislation limiting the scope of foreign-owned private security services in South Africa has been in the pipeline. It has repeatedly been withdrawn or held back because of opposition from the private security industry. Legislation may now be passed that the industry argues is unconstitutional. Assuming the legal objections can be overcome and the legislation passed, is it good or bad for the country? By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
By November last year, the true crime weekly podcast, Serial, had turned into an Internet sensation. The podcast about the 1999 murder of a Baltimore high school student, supposedly by her former boyfriend, became one of the most popular in the history of iTunes with over five million downloads across the world including South Africa. What’s the appeal of the podcast and are we entering a golden age for the medium? By MARIANNE THAMM.
Cheer up, Jozi. We know the last few weeks have been tough, what with all those potholes and power cuts and the depressing news. But put on a brave face, smile a little and maybe even pat yourself on the back, because the world is watching – and they really, really like what they see. By SIMON ALLISON.
The saga involving suspended Hawks boss Anwa Dramat, placed on leave last December, continues. On Thursday, police minister Nkosinathi Nhleko asked Parliament to remove Dramat, claiming his involvement in the illegal rendition of Zimbabweans warranted such a step – despite the fact that a police report may contradict this. Opposition parties aren’t buying Nhleko’s appeal to human rights. If you haven’t been keeping up, REBECCA DAVIS summarises the messy affair for you.
Are nearly two-thirds of South Africa’s estimated 150,000 sex workers HIV-positive? At least four studies published since the mid-1990s suggest an HIV-prevalence of between 45% and 69% in the sex workers that were surveyed, but dig a little deeper and it turns out the research conducted to date has been limited in scope. By Sintha Chiumia for AFRICA CHECK.
The EFF is currently mixing threats – we’ll go naked; we’ll disrupt SONA – with interesting parliamentary reform proposals. At the same time, the party appears to be fighting fires on numerous fronts, and is missing a few key figures in its parliamentary caucus at the moment. In the year to come, can the party sustain the momentum that got them into Parliament in the first place? By REBECCA DAVIS.
On Wednesday the ANC, in the form of the always-interesting, complicated and usually jovial Gwede Mantashe, explained its view on the state of things. Technically, it was a report back on the National Executive Committee Lekgotla, intended to focus on policy, and provide guidance for the Cabinet Lekgotla, which will then see a final expression in the State of the Nation Address. In reality, of course, it was really a chance to find out what the party thinks regarding issues like the xenophobic attacks on foreign-owned shops, land ownership, and Eskom. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
For some reason, there is dogged resistance by the ANC and government against classifying the violence and looting in Soweto and other areas around Johannesburg as xenophobia. Although most of the looting was directed at foreign-owned shops and foreign nationals have fled the affected areas in fear of their lives, the attacks have been deemed “just criminality”. ANC veteran and former Robben Island prisoner Ahmed Kathrada disagrees. “The attacks are xenophobic, and xenophobia is racism,” Kathrada said. What’s more, it is the ANC’s responsibility to stand up against any form of racism in society, as it has done so decisively in the past. Kathrada spoke to RANJENI MUNUSAMY about this matter that troubles him deeply.
When listening to Minister of Environmental Affairs Edna Molewa discuss tackling the scourge of rhino poaching, one hears lots of ‘good’ news – but sadly there is little of real substance on the key issues when one delves a little deeper. The number of rhinos poached last year has once again reached a new record, with a staggering 1,215 rhinos officially slaughtered in 2014 – a 21% increase since the previous year. Yet what comes through in her press meetings is a mostly a positive story: South Africa is, apparently, making every possible effort to stem the bloodshed. By ANDREA TEAGLE.
The arrest in December of a 70-year-old Somerset West woman who had been offering psilocybin - known also as sacred mushrooms – during spiritual growth sessions involving hundreds of people over the past five years has highlighted the ongoing question of the illegal use of psychoactive sacraments in religious and traditional rituals or for personal adult consumption. A current constitutional court challenge by the ‘dagga couple’, Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, might help her case. By MARIANNE THAMM.
It’s a new year for South Africa’s Parliament. In a bid to restore order to proceedings in the House, new regulations are being considered on everything from clothing and microphone use to security. Perhaps it’s a particularly telling sign of the times that on Tuesday, religious leaders summoned parliamentary party leaders to a meeting aimed at ensuring a peaceful State of the Nation address. Fewer kerfuffles, more kumbaya? By REBECCA DAVIS.
On Monday afternoon the head of the Special Investigating Unit, Advocate Vas Soni, confirmed that he was resigning from his post. He says he’s leaving the post for “intensely personal reasons”, and that he would have preferred to stay on to finish the management system changes he’d started. In most places, a resignation from an institution like the SIU would be met with sadness. In South Africa, it will be met with cynicism - because of the past history of the unit, and because this latest development will add to the already massive uncertainty in the upper echelons of our corruption-fighting machinery. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
The former National Police Commissioner died on Friday, which means all the weekend newspapers had prominent coverage of his death and chequered legacy, including his spectacular fall from grace. It was a great irony for someone who resented the media hounding him, grumbling to his comrades that journalists thought he was their “weekend special” – channelling the Brenda Fassie hit song. Selebi’s public image was that of a pompous loudmouth whose bad behaviour caught up with him. To his friends and comrades, he was witty and charismatic, with his heart in the ANC of old and yearning for redemption. His battles kept many of them ensnared in feuds that long ceased to make sense. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
On Friday morning, as the nation’s media and politicians descended upon the Moroka Police Station in Soweto, a debate broke out about the causes of last week’s violence in that area. Several high-profile politicians, including the Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane proclaimed, from on high perhaps, that it was not “xenophobic”. Academic researchers, the Somalian Embassy and others immediately disagreed with her, claiming that the people who had been attacked – or the owners of looted shops – were all foreign. It appears there is some distance between “rampant criminality” and “xenophobia”. On the ground in the middle stand our police. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
Eskom’s boiler works contractor at Medupi and Kusile has moved to defend its reputation, and to clarify its position in respect of any perceived non-performances in meeting its contractual obligations to deliver steam of the right cleanliness, speed, temperature, pressure and mass flow-rate to the turbines at the power station construction sites. By CHRIS YELLAND.
The African Diaspora Forum is concerned by what it regards as a lack of an effective response by the South African government to the issue of xenophobia. In an open letter to President Zuma, Minister of Home Afrairs, Malusi Gigaba and Minister of Police, Nkosinathi Nhleko this weekend, the organisation has pleaded for more accountability and for government to recognise attacks on foreign nationals as xenophobia and not to dismiss these as merely criminal.
News last week that a South African drug mule had been sentenced to death in Malaysia prompted discussion – for the umpteenth time – of the South African government’s approach to South African citizens convicted of crimes in countries with draconian laws. The issue is rendered even more troubling by the growing evidence that some drug mules may actually be the victims of human trafficking. By REBECCA DAVIS.
MANDY WIENER followed Jackie Selebi’s career from the police headquarters at the Wachthuis building in Pretoria, to his role as an accused in the High Court in Johannesburg, and then back to Pretoria when he was locked up as a prisoner at the Kgosi Mampuru II facility’s hospital wing. She reflects on a complex man who left behind a complicated legacy.
In the strange nexus that is the law, the police, and the politics of South Africa, 24 hours is an aeon. As Thursday turned into Thursday night, and Friday morning morphed into Friday lunchtime, many of the old certainties of our lives turned upside down. The Police Ministry released the list of National Keypoints. As a development, it was surprising, unexpected, and downright difficult to understand. And then, in the High Court in Pretoria, Hawks boss Anwa Dramat was dramatically reinstated. All of this shows how, once again, when it comes to control over the security forces, the rule of law is, still, mightier than the politician. For now, at least. By STEPHEN GROOTES.