- Daily Maverick Staff Reporter
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.
We have again resorted to the lowest form of human behaviour. Incidents of racism and xenophobia have again exposed South Africa as a superficial, ugly, violent nation that lacks respect for other human beings. From exclusive restaurants in Cape Town that discriminate against black people to the killing of foreign nationals and looting of their shops in Soweto, we are showing ourselves to be once again a nation filled with hate. The façade of a country that once represented the model of reconciliation and nation building is being gradually shattered. We are what we are: a nation in decline and at war with itself. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Three elderly sisters survive who speak the Nǀuu language. In the heat of Upington, one of them, lacking the resources to do so elsewhere, is teaching local children to speak it outside her house. With the help of a local academic team, they’ve even developed an orthography to ensure the history and heritage doesn’t vanish. By MARELISE VAN DER MERWE.
The latest news about pregnant South African schoolgirls has landed. On this occasion, 13 of 633 pupils who fell pregnant at Limpopo schools last year were in primary school, with one in Grade 4. Importantly, we don’t know their ages. But while discussions about schoolgirl pregnancy often evoke moral panic about the notion of sexually active young girls, there’s less consideration of those responsible for their impregnation. By REBECCA DAVIS.
Spaza shops were looted across Snake Park, Zola and Emdeni in Soweto this week. GREG NICOLSON and BHEKI C. SIMELANE detail how a young man standing outside a store led to residents going on a rampage, the death of a 14-year-old boy, and foreign shop owners fleeing the township, once again raising the spectre of xenophobia.
Of all the scandals to engulf our current administration, Guptagate, the personal use of the Waterkloof Airforce Base by the Gupta family, stands out for its sheer effrontery. Atul Gupta was perfectly confident welcoming his guests to the country at the base, no one has managed to point a smoking gun at President Jacob Zuma for the affair, and the only person to take any responsibility was “demoted” to the position of Ambassador to the Netherlands. And yet, it is the symbol of so much that is wrong with our nation. Which means that there are some organisations, like Cosatu, which have to comment on what’s happened, because they’re horrified, and simply because their constituencies drive them there. And there are other people, like Gwede Mantashe, who would rather not comment at all, but their earlier handling of this forces them to do so. By STEPHEN GROOTES.
In this 60th anniversary year of the Freedom Charter, much contestation relates to who is the authentic bearer of the vision behind it. NUMSA and the EFF claim to be true to its meaning (assuming it has one meaning), specifically to its economic clauses. But it’s not quite as simple as all that. By RAYMOND SUTTNER.
Mokopane, Limpopo, is a town on the brink. It’s on the brink of complete political meltdown, after years of factional fighting over corruption among municipal leaders. It could also be on the brink of a newfound prosperity, with a major platinum mine being built on its outskirts – on land previously used for small-scale subsistence farming. Some locals say they weren’t consulted properly, while mine bosses insist they must get on board or be left behind. The tensions here are emblematic of much wider social and political fraying-points. REBECCA DAVIS, GREG NICOLSON and BHEKI SIMELANE paid it a visit.
On Tuesday, The Citizen reported that Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema was in talks with the ANC about returning to the ruling party. The report has been denied by both the EFF and the ANC as being untrue. If it were true, though, what purpose would such a move serve, considering there is no cessation of hostilities between Malema and the ANC, particularly President Jacob Zuma? Although the story seems not to have emerged from the ANC, there is a school of thought that drawing Malema back in would defuse the negativity around Zuma and save him from further embarrassment. But Malema is not the answer to that problem. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.
Once upon a time, when South Africa was a more innocent place, a family of the president’s best friends landed a plane-full of their guests at a military base, and no one was there to check their passports. In this iteration of South Africa—trusting, loving, in which nary a foreigner had ever been set on fire for speaking funny—the president’s friends’ friends were the president’s friends, and if they wanted to use military sites to park a chartered 737, then so be it. In other realms, this would count as a lasting, damning scandal. Here, everybody walks. BY RICHARD POPLAK.
Dullstroom, Machadodorp, Belfast and Watervalboven are four little towns in the eMakhazeni municipality in Mpumalanga that might be described as holiday-maker heaven: famous for the gentle art of fly-fishing, nestled in mountains and lakes and forests, with a dewy climate and wild lilies that grow on the mountainsides. But Heaven has had a bumpy ride for the last few years, with constant protests and service disruptions and a steady decline in town infrastructure. And for the last four months, Heaven has not been functioning at all. By NIKI MOORE.
Mining communities are heavily in debt. That's nothing new, listed as one of the reasons for the Marikana Massacre and 2014 platinum strike. But those claiming to represent workers in the matter appear to be entrenching the debt, while employers are trying to confront it. By GREG NICOLSON & BHEKI C. SIMELANE.
In recent times the ANC has revealed itself to be quick to react to perceived slander of President Jacob Zuma – be it in the form of The Spear, op-ed columns like that authored by Max du Preez, or campaigning messages put out by the opposition. On Monday, the Constitutional Court backed the DA’s right to send SMSes drawing attention to Zuma’s use of public funds to build Nkandla, while also producing three interesting judgments. By REBECCA DAVIS.
After the racial storm of the weekend over the Zelda la Grange tweets, it was inevitable that the Good Ship South Africa would eventually start to right herself. And, slowly, move away from the wreck of our angry conversations about race, towards the calmer waters of a proper, more thoughtful discussion. The identities of the people who started this process are not at all surprising. Hlengiwe Mkhize may have the formal title of Deputy Minister of Telecommunications, but her history, and her role in the movement give her a much bigger and more interesting back-story. And the back-story of Father Michael Lapsley gives him what must surely be a unique insight into our problems of race, identity, and the legacy of Apartheid. By STEPHEN GROOTES.